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Consensus Study Report


When waterfowl began to die from selenium poisoning at Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in California's San Joaquin Valley, considerable alarm arose among environmental and agricultural specialists. This new volume suggests that Kesterson is not a unique problem and the events there offer important lessons for the future.

Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems uses the San Joaquin experience to suggest how we can prepare for similar problems elsewhere. As one committee member put it, "There will be elsewheres"—trace elements and organic contaminants are being concentrated by irrigation in many river basins.

This book addresses how the Kesterson crisis developed, how irrigation can endanger water quality, and how economic, legal, and other factors impede our ability to respond to water quality problems. The committee explores how to study these problems, unraveling complex issues and clarifying the varying perspectives of farmers, environmentalists, scientists, and other key figures.

This dispassionate analysis of a controversial topic will be useful to policymakers, resource managers, and agricultural specialists and farmers, as well as specialists in hydrology, water quality, irrigation, law, and environmental quality. It will also be useful as a case study in the environmental policy classroom.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 1989. Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

171 pages |  6 x 9 |  Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-04036-5

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