Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012IN335B

Identifying Opportunities for Soil and Water Conservation With Indianas County Surveyors and Drainage Boards

Institute: Indiana
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $30,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $60,000

Principal Investigators: Linda Prokopy, Nathan Mullendore

Abstract: Indianas water quality and quantity problems have been widely recognized and documented. Since more than 70% of the states total area consists of agricultural lands, a significant portion of conservation effort has focused on farmers and the management practices they can voluntarily adopt to protect soil and water resources. Comparatively less attention has been given to the structure and maintenance of the waterways themselves. Indiana contains tens of thousands of miles of regulated drains that are controlled by county surveyors and county drainage boards. These lower order streams represent biotic communities that comprise the headwaters of the states many rivers and creeks. Traditional management, however, reduces these waterways to their most basic function as conveyances, ignoring their role in the ecosystem as hosts for biotic and abiotic processes that actively regulate the fate and transport of nutrients and farm chemicals. Novel techniques and practices such as two-stage ditches, controlled drainage structures, in-ground bioreactors, and constructed in-stream wetlands represent promising alternatives to traditional management approaches. Despite extensive development and research, many of these tools remain underutilized. Drainage water management inherently involves agreements and cooperation between multiple stakeholders with different missions and goals, a factor that contributes to slow diffusion of innovation. This project seeks to better understand the primary decision makers behind drainage water management. By exploring the attitudes, knowledge, and motivations of Indianas county surveyors and drainage board members, insights will be gained into how these groups function and make management decisions, helping to foster new collaborations and earlier adoption of conservation technology