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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0304,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15742)
Authors:   B.C. Atherton, L.C. Brown, N.R. Fausey, and F.J. Hitzhusen
Keywords:   Agricultural drainage, group drainage, drainage districts, ditch maintenance, drainage benefits

Much of Ohio was uninhabitable by humans until it was drained during the nineteenth century. Settlement lagged in many areas because of wetness and the presence of wetness and disease. As the population increased, landowners cooperated to construct mutually beneficial drainage improvements to convert land with wetness problems to productive cropland. By 1884, it was estimated that 20,000 miles of public ditches benefiting over 4.45 million hectares of land had been constructed. However, lack of organized maintenance often resulted in cycles of declining benefits followed by reconstruction for many of these drainage improvements.

Since 1957, many Ohio counties have established organized maintenance programs for drainage improvements constructed under the relevant legal authority. As part of the creation of Ohios Agricultural Water Management Guide, a study was undertaken to inventory the number and types of drainage improvements under maintenance, the area benefited by these projects, and the cost of maintenance for the years 1994-1996.

Forty-seven counties of 50 counties surveyed reported organized ditch maintenance programs for 1996. Over 3359 individual open ditches, subsurface drainage mains, and grassed waterways are maintained by these programs, and over 1.25 million ha of land is estimated to be benefited. Over $2.8 million was spent on maintenance for these projects in 1996. The average annual cost for maintenance of a selected group of open ditches with detailed records was less than $2.00 per hectare of benefited land.

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