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New PDF release: Arid Land Irrigation in Developing Countries. Environmental

By Barton E. Worthington

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The taste and odor of impoundment water may be im­ paired by excessive growth and decay of such algae and this becomes serious when the water is required for domestic use. Blooms of the genera Anabaena, Gymnodinium, Aphanizomenon belonging to the blue-green algae have been recorded as causes of mam­ malian, avian and fish deaths. An additional advantage of sedimentation in relatively shallow storage reservoirs is the increase in food matter for bottom feeders. In the Volta Lake the enormous amounts of organic sediment and decaying vegetable matter contributed to a major increase of fish, especially of the Tilapia and Labeo species, during the early life of the dam; great quantities were caught in the shallower Afram region.

Deleterious effects of irrigation Establishment of an irrigation scheme may render a region more vulnerable to diseases. Water can carry toxic chemicals and many communicable diseases, serving both as a transfer medium and as a habit for vectors and intermediate hosts. Very often the negative effects of irrigation are not related to irrigation itself, but to its misuse, and they may be avoided or alleviated by appropriate management. Chemical pollution affecting irrigation populations may originate upstream and could endanger the health of the inhabitants.

The validity of such a compromise must be based on its relative economic value to the com­ munity, including control of pest organisms, as outlined in Chapter 7. Positive interactions between fish and crop cultures may keep rice fields in a healthy condition as they consume phytoplankton, weeds and insects; and their droppings add to soil fertility. Properly selected species may have the added advantage of helping control 39 40 INTEGRATION OF IRRIGATION snails and mosquito larvae. Negative interactions include conflict between requirements regarding water levels in rice fields, canals and reservoirs; inconveniencing structures of irrigation drainage networks; use of chemical pesticides proving hazardous to fish growth or marketability; control of water bodies interfering with productivity of fish species whose reproduction is dependent on natural cycles of flood seasons; and damage to cultivated plants.

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