Exploring the potential role of public drain managers in motivating agricultural conservation practices

Journal of Great Lakes Research
Kerr, John M.; Meersman, Matt; Fuller, Erin; Fales, Mary K.
SourceWeb of Science
Volume / Issue42 / 6
Pages1386 - 1394
Total Pages8 pages
Article Link
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Tagsincentive-based conservation; voluntary conservation; drain commissioner; drain assessment; best management practices; Des Moines Water Works; agriculture
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Publication DateAugust 12, 2016
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AbstractA current lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works against three upstream Iowa counties raises the prospect that agricultural drain managers nationwide will bear greater responsibility to promote conservation practices that protect downstream water quality. To date, however, an institutional and administrative approach for doing so is lacking. A pilot program in southwestern Michigan introduced a new method for apportioning drain management costs that rewards landowners who use conservation practices known to reduce sedimentation. The logic of the program is that as each parcel deposits less sediment into a drain, the cost of maintaining that drain will decline. We describe the program, review its performance relative to a number of criteria, and discuss its prospects for replication elsewhere. Several Michigan drain commissioners have expressed interest in replicating the approach which reduced participating landowners' drain assessments by 21 percent in the pilot program. The details of the program are quite specific to the case in Michigan, but institutionally it offers a way forward that could be applied widely.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:29 AM (ET)
Modified: 1/3/2019 1:59 PM (ET)
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