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Recycling Runoff and Drainage Water in the Midwest (Wetland Reservoir Subirrigation Systems – WRSIS)
Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.orgCitation: Pp. 191-191 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations: Proceedings of the March 11-13, 2002 Conference, (Fort Worth, Texas, USA) 701P0102.(doi:10.13031/2013.7555)
Authors: Barry J. Allred, Norman R. Fausey, William B. Clevenger, Larry C. Brown
An innovative agricultural water management system has been developed and is now
being tested to determine efficacy for reduction of nonpoint source pollution. Widespread
utilization of this system could substantially reduce many of the Midwests agriculturally related
environmental problems. Called a Wetland Reservoir Subirrigation System or WRSIS for short,
the system is comprised of a wetland and a water storage reservoir linked to a network of
subsurface pipes used at different times to either drain or irrigate crops through the root zone.
Runoff and subsurface drainage are collected in a constructed wetland. Natural processes allow
the wetland to partially treat the water through removal of nutrients, pesticides, and sediment.
The water is then routed to a storage reservoir and held until needed to subirrigate crops during
the dry part of the growing season. Depending on placement location within the system, weir-type
hydraulic control structures are used to manage the water table in cropland, regulate surface
water levels in the wetland, or limit offsite discharge. The designed integration of the various
components allows WRSIS to operate in a closed loop mode most of the time, with the
consequence that water is released outside the system only under controlled circumstances.