Assessment of tailwater recovery system and on-farm storage reservoir efficacies: Quantity issues

Author(s): Czarnecki, J.; Omer, A.

In the State of Mississippi, the USDA via the Natural Resource Conservation Service has provided financial assistance for ~200 tailwater recovery systems (TWR) with and without the addition of an on-farm storage reservoir (OFS); over half of these systems are located within Sunflower County, overlying the cone of depression. The objective of this study was to quantify capture and use of TWR (and OFS, where available). In order to understand the water quantity benefits of TWR and OFS, it was necessary first to determine how much water these systems captured over the course of the year and how much water was lost from these systems due to natural processes. Working with agency partners, a list of TWR and OFS was compiled and 30 sites (18 TWR/12 OFS) were selected for study. Each site was instrumented with a water level logger. Loggers were set to capture data at 15-minute intervals. Loggers were deployed for at least a year in most systems. Dimensions and build specifications for each system were obtained to convert depth measurements into volumes. Incremental changes in volume and surface area were calculated for the span of the data collection effort. Considerations for evaporation and infiltration were made using best available models and methods to quantify these losses. These resultant values can then be weighed against the potential levels of capture, re-use, and loss, and the conservation contribution of TWR and OFS can be quantified. It is intended that these values will provide insight for agency personnel to determine if the benefit justifies the cost relative to other, alternative best management practices.

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