The safe use of marginal quality water in agriculture: a guide to the water resource planner


Guidelines and procedures are set out assisting planners and managers to:

  • Increase water resources available for agricultural production in a region.

  • Plan for long-term, sustainable agricultural production in a region.

  • Avoid or minimise threats posed to human health through contact with water supplies used for agricultural purposes.

Users are guided through the steps required to identify and assess potential marginal quality water supplies. They are then provided with the tools to evaluate impacts on crops, soils and human health in the region.

Different management options are presented to maintain long-term, sustainable agriculture, together with the advantages and disadvantages of each. Specifically the guide gives information on:

  • Identifying primary sources of marginal quality water, likely pollutants and their associated dangers.

  • Assessing the potential of a marginal quality water source for sustainable agricultural production.

  • Determining the hazards to humans through use of marginal quality water for irrigation.

  • Assessing the risk of soil degradation.

  • Predicting long-term soil pollutant accumulation.

  • Determining the long-term effects on crop yield.

  • Different management options for marginal quality water.

The guide is an impact assessment tool for irrigated agriculture with marginal quality water allowing evaluation of the likely effects on sustainable agriculture and human health, and consideration of the benefits of alternate management options. It is recommended that each marginal quality water source is tested for all pollutants included in this guide. Further analysis and action should then be undertaken depending on the range of pollutants present.


HR Wallingford, UK. 92 pp.

The safe use of marginal quality water in agriculture: a guide to the water resource planner

Published 1 January 1997