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The water quality of drainage discharged via pumping from an acid sulfate soil (ASS) affected catchment used for sugar cane farming is temporally very variable and is influenced by the various rain event magnitudes, their antecedents, and the particular phase of the discharge in any rain event. Rainfall episodes can cause substantial changes in acidity and dissolved metal concentrations in ASS drainage waters over very short time scales with minimum pH often reached within a few hours of initiation of the rainfall event. The initial increase in acidity and dissolved metals concentrations often observed can be attributed mainly to `first flush` effects resulting from mobilization of salts present in the upper soil profile. During the middle of a large rainfall event dilution effects may result in a decrease in concentrations of dissolved species, but increases in acidity and dissolved metals (particularly aluminium) concentrations in the recession portion of the hydrograph often occur as small field drains discharge into main channels. These observations assist both in understanding of the hydrogeochemical processes leading to acid and metals release from acid sulfate soils affected catchments, and in developing appropriate strategies to treat contaminated discharge waters from such catchments. © 2005.