University of California

Innovative strategies reduce selenium in Grasslands drainage


Nigel W.T. Quinn
Joseph C. McGahan
Michael L. Delamore

Authors Affiliations

N.W.T. Quinn is Staff Geological Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Water Resources Engineer, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Sacramento; Principal Engineer, Summers Engineering Inc., Hanford;; Chief Drainage Section, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Fresno.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 52(5):12-18. DOI:10.3733/ca.v052n05p12. September 1998.

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The Grasslands Bypass Project in the western San Joaquin Valley of California was conceived as a means of diverting selenium-contaminated agricultural drainage water from fresh water channels serving Grassland wetlands. Use of the federally owned San Luis Drain was made contingent on the formation of a regional drainage management authority by the project proponents and compliance with strict monthly and annual selenium-load targets and agreement to strict monthly and annual selenium-load targets for discharges from the 97,000-acre (44,000 hectares) project area. During the first year of this 5-year project, the Grasslands Basin farmers were successful in reducing selenium export from the project area by 44% and 33% when compared to water years 1995 and 1996. Although monthly targets were exceeded during the spring months of 1997, in part due to unusually high rainfall runoff from the project area and upper watershed, the goals of the project were met. There is popular sentiment that more was learned about selenium drainage management and achieved in selenium load reductions by participating water districts during the first year of the project than in the past decade.

Further reading

Quinn NWT. A compliance monitoring program for use and operation of the Grasslands Bypass for drainage conveyance in the western San Joaquin Valley. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Topical Report, LBNL-39052 1995. Berkeley, CA: 94720.

Quinn NWT, Chen CW, Grober LF, al et. Real-time management of water quality in the San Joaquin River. Cal Ag. 1997. 51(5):14-20.

Summers Eng, ineering Inc. Summary of Grassland Basin Drainers Drainage Reduction Activities. Meeting package for Grasslands Bypass project tour 1997.

USBR. Proposed monitoring program for use and operation of the Grasslands Bypass to remove agricultural drainage from Grassland Water District channels. 1996. Sacramento, CA.:

Quinn N, McGahan J, Delamore M. 1998. Innovative strategies reduce selenium in Grasslands drainage. Hilgardia 52(5):12-18. DOI:10.3733/ca.v052n05p12
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