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Drainage Water Management


A new conservation practice called Drainage Water Management (DWM) is now available for funding in North Dakota. DWM helps reduce the amount of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from negatively impacting the environment is now available for funding in North Dakota.

With the advent of subsurface drainage in North Dakota, producers are seeking ways to manage the quality and quantity of drainage water. DWM is a practice that allows farmers with subsurface drainage to manage soil moisture by holding water in root zones when crops need it and removing excess water when it is not. With appropriate management, DWM systems may also reduce the total amount of water discharge from the drainage system.

“Drainage Water Management marks a new path for NRCS to work with landowners who wish to install tile drainage or already have tile in place to reduce any adverse environmental and economic impacts of a tile drainage system,” stated State Conservationist Mary Podoll. “We look forward to working with landowners to ensure our precious landscapes maintain their naturally beneficial features.”   

Along with helping to manage soil moisture, DWM can reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus passing through existing drainage tile. By reducing surface runoff and holding water in the soil, nutrients will be less likely to leave the field and be more available for plant growth and crop production.

“North Dakota has long demonstrated a knack for its ability to follow an unseasonable wet year with an unseasonable dry one. Drainage Water Management is beneficial in that it retains water when crops need it and releases it when there is too much. It’s a win-win scenario,” stated Ms. Podoll.

North Dakota landowners may be eligible for financial and technical assistance to implement DWM through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Assistance is available to create a DWM plan, install control structures, or manage the control structures throughout the year.

Drainage Water Management Materials

Contact Information

Ronald Herr
(Acting) Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
Phone: 701-530-2051

Dennis Reep, PE
State Conservation Engineer
Phone: 701-530-2091