Working Towards Ecologically Sustainable Hydrology in Publicly Managed Drainage Systems

Matt Millado


Land drainage refers to the removal of surface and subsurface water by ditches, drain tiles, and other drainage ways. Drainage is an important component of global environmental change, altering hydrological regimes by increasing the movement of water and contaminants. Drainage is a particularly relevant issue in the St. Joseph River Basin, a rural watershed where approximately 70% of streams are managed as public ditches and agricultural land use has exacerbated flooding and water quality problems.

In light of these issues, the St. Joseph River Basin Commission has identified mitigating the negative effects of land drainage as a key research need. To facilitate that understanding, I will conduct a scientific literature review of drainage practices and technologies, and synthesize information from case studies of drain management from across the country. These analyses will help me compare the practicality and economic feasibility of approaches aimed at improving altered hydrology in rural drainage systems.