Irrigated land is prone to develop salinity. Salt dissolved in irrigation water tends to accumulate in soils. This is typically managed by sub-surface drainage and over-irrigating slightly to flush the accumulating salt from the soil. Irrigation salinity develops in areas where drainage is inadequate and/or irrigation excessive. Lack of drainage or shallow water tables prevent salts from being leached from the soil. Water-logging and salt accumulation reduces plant growth and agricultural production. Irrigation salinity may also result in damage adjacent wetlands and the export of salt (and potentially nutrients and other contaminants) to streams. Leaking water supply infrastructure and weirs may also contribute to rising water tables in or adjacent to irrigation areas.
Groundwater monitoring has indicated that there are extensive areas of the Burdekin River Irrigation Area at risk from irrigation salinity (Roth et al. 2002). Large areas have saline groundwater at depths less than 2m. Symptoms of salinity are already visible in some of these areas (e.g. Mona Park, Giru and Leichardt Plains).
- Roth, C.H., Lawson, G and Cavanagh, D 2002. Overview of the key Natural Resource Management Issues in the Burdekin Catchment, with particular reference to Water Quality and Salinity. Burdekin Catchment Condition Study Phase 1. Report commissioned by Department of Natural Resources and Mines on behalf of the Burdekin Dry Tropics Board. CSIRO Land and Water. Townsville.
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