There is a need to explore more sustainable approaches to water management on the Canadian Prairies. Retention pond installation schemes designed to capture surface water may be a viable option that would reduce water stress during drought periods by providing water for irrigation. The retention systems would serve to capture excess spring runoff and extreme rainfall events, reducing flood potential downstream. Additionally, retention ponds may be used for biomass production and nutrient retention. The purpose of this research was to investigate the economic viability of adopting local farm surface water retention systems as a strategic water management strategy. A retention pond was analyzed using a dynamic simulation model to predict its storage capacity, installation and upkeep cost, and economic advantage to farmers when used for irrigation. While irrigation application increased crop revenue, the cost of irrigation and reservoir infrastructure and installation costs were too high for the farmer to experience a positive net revenue. Farmers who harvest cattails from retention systems for biomass and available carbon offset credits can gain $642.70/hectare of harvestable cattail/year. Cattail harvest also removes phosphorus and nitrogen, providing a monetized impact of $7014/hectare of harvestable cattail/year. The removal of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and avoided flooding damages of the retention basin itself provide an additional $17,730–$18,470/hectare of retention system/year. The recommended use of retention systems is for avoided flood damages, nutrient retention, and biomass production. The revenue gained from these functions can support farmers wanting to invest in irrigation while providing economic and environmental benefits to the region.
Applied Water Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 27, 2017
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