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Drainage Water Management

A water level control structure, part of a drainage water management systemPractice Code: 554

Drainage water management is the process of managing water discharges from surface and/ or subsurface agricultural drainage systems with water-control structures.


What is Drainage Water Management (DWM)?

Drainage water management is the process of managing the timing and the amount of water discharged from agricultural drainage systems. DWM is based on the premise that the same drainage intensity is not required at all times during the year. With DWM, both water quality improvement and production benefits are possible. Water quality benefits are derived by minimizing unnecessary tile drainage, reducing the amount of nitrate that leaves farm fields. DWM systems can also retain water in fields that could be used for crop production later in the season.

Where does DWM work?

  • The flatter the topography, the better
  • The more intensive the tile system, the better
  • To be cost-effective, fields should be 20 acres or more in size

Is your land suitable for a DWM System?

Visit your local USDA-NRCS office for a field evaluation.

Conservation Practice Documents

Conservation Practice Standard Overview
NRCS New York Conservation Practice Standard

Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)Conservation planners shall reference NRCS New York Field Office Technical Guide for additional documents, tools, references, and procedures required with this practice.


Related Conservation Practices

This practice is commonly used in a Conservation Management System with practices such as:

Critical Area Planting
Nutrient Management
Structure for Water Control
Subsurface Drain
Vertical Drain
Waste Recycling
Water and Sediment Control Basin

Ground Disturbing Potential of Conservation Practices

This is a potential ground disturbing conservation practice. Any project with ground disturbing or potential ground disturbing practices planned may need to be submitted for review by the State Historic Preservation Officer and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. Please see the Cultural Resources Review Process Flowchart for an outline of this process. View a list of conservation practices used in New York State, and their ground disturbing potential.   

If you want to learn how you can protect natural resources on your farm or forestland, please contact your local NRCS Service Center.

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