Expert Opinion and Groundwater Quality: the Case of Agricultural Drainage Wells

Graham Tobin
Rangaswamy Rajagopal, University of Iowa


Agricultural drainage wells are necessary to maintain favorable soil moisture levels for productive farming in parts of the Midwest. These wells channel chemical pollutants into aquifers. The number of functioning wells and their distribution are not known, but it is assumed that they are clustered in areas with poor drainage. Although groundwater contamination from these wells has occurred only at local levels, the Iowa Dept of Natural Resources recommends phasing out their use through various incentive programs. A questionnaire survey of 100 groundwater experts on how to deal with the drainage wells reviewed their opinions on the seriousness of the problem, possible corrective action, financial responsibility for corrective actions, and the role of groups and institutions in the decision-making process. Greater controls and further research were recommended.