For 30 years, the Oakes Test Area (OTA) has provided a wealth of important data imperative to developing the best management practices for irrigated agriculture in North Dakota. OTA is an irrigation research site located near Oakes in southeast North Dakota.
WHAT IS THE OAKES TEST AREA?
OTA came about when the International Joint Commission recommended the establishment of a facility to study the effects of Garrison Diversion Unit (GDU) irrigation. The irrigation research site was developed in 1980 by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in cooperation with state and federal agencies. Prior to irrigation delivery, data collection and monitoring was completed to document pre-development conditions.
Irrigation delivery began at OTA in the spring of 1988 after completion of a subsurface drainage system and water distribution system. In 1994, Reclamation’s director of research determined that original research objectives had been met, and it was no longer in Reclamation’s interest tocontinue this research. Reclamation discontinued funding research in OTA at the end of 1995. This decision was supported by an environmental assessment and decision document, which also stated Reclamation’s intent to transfer title of the OTA facilities. It also stated that if title transfer cannot be accomplished, water deliveries would be discontinued and the facilities would be abandoned.
Continue reading the January 2019 ND Water article on the the Oakes Test Area