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Construct Tile-Drainage Wetlands (Proposed)

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Construction of tile-drainage wetlands is a strategy the University would use to reduce carbon emissions. GHG emissions aren’t the only environmental contaminants on the South Farms. Extensive tile drainage on 3,609 acres of farmland delivers more than 100 metric tons of nitrate-N to the Embarras River and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico, where it contributes to gulf hypoxia. Nitrogen, whether in the form of manure or commercial fertilizer, causes atmospheric contamination forming nitrous oxide through nitrification and partial denitrification in the soil, and surface water contamination as nitrate-N leaches into streams. One of the most promising management practices for the removal of nitrate and the elimination of nitrous oxide from agricultural surface waters is the establishment of constructed tile-drainage wetlands. Tile-drainage wetlands built at a 5 percent wetland-to-watershed ratio could remove nearly 50 percent of the nitrate-N that otherwise would enter the Embarras River (Kovacic 2007). In addition, wetlands would provide fish and wildlife habitat on the South Farms, flood reduction through increased water retention, aesthetics, and areas for new research opportunities.