Expert Opinion and Groundwater Quality: The Case of Agricultural Drainage Wells

Document Type


Publication Date



Productive farming in parts of the Midwest depends upon agricultural drainage wells to maintain favorable soil moisture levels. These wells channel water and, it is hypothesized, chemical pollutants into aquifers. The number of functioning wells is not known, nor is their spatial distribution, although they are apparently clustered in areas with poor drainage. Current evidence indicates groundwater contamination occurring only at local levels. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has recommended phasing out these wells through various incentive programs. As part of a larger project, a survey questionnaire was developed to elicit opinions from 100 groundwater experts on how to deal with drainage wells. Results demonstrated some of the complexities of implementing environmental policies based on incomplete information. The consensus was toward greater controls, although appropriate strategies to be adopted and sources of funding for implementing management policies were open to debate. Inevitably, there were calls for further research, particularly to determine the socioeconomic impacts of closing drainage wells.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, v. 45, issue 2, p. 336-341