Nontraditional Irrigation Water Sources

There are significant knowledge gaps concerning the availability (quantity and quality) of nontraditional irrigation water sources, such as reused water. To address these gaps, we are  characterizing quantity, through the development of a user-friendly spatial platform of nontraditional irrigation water sources, as well as quality, utilizing cutting-edge analytical technologies to comprehensively characterize these water sources. See our new term sheet that combines definitions from U.S. federal agencies and national organizations related to water used in agriculture.

Goal: To conduct the most comprehensive chemical, microbial, physical and geographic characterization of nontraditional irrigation water sources that has ever been performed in the U.S.

Examples of Achievements to Date:

17 field sites sampled in the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest

4,896 water samples collected, processed, analyzed for bacterial indicators, pathogens and chemical constituents, and sent for 16S rRNAsequencing and/or metagenomicshotgun sequencing

460 Salmonella isolates Whole Genome Sequenced by FDA GenomeTrakrProgram 


Geographic Information Systems Research and Analysis

We have compiled local and regional data on the sources and quantities of reusable water in the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest (e.g., publically- owned wastewater treatment facilities and data on other potential nontraditional water sources) and linked these data as attributes on a user-friendly geographical information system (GIS) platform. We are linking these sources to agricultural point-of-use sites, factoring in proximity and ease of access. We are also classifying the reusable water based on quantity and chemical, microbial and physical quality.

Water Quality Characterization

Our team has utilized cutting-edge analytical technologies, as well as gold standard culture-based methods, to comprehensively characterize the quality of nontraditional irrigation water sources across four states. Specifically, the team conducted bi-weekly field sampling at 22 sites in the Mid-Atlantic and the Southwest over a two-year period. Tested sites include water reclamation sites, non-tidal freshwater rivers, brackish rivers, ponds, vegetable processing facilities and farms employing return flows.