Bureau of Reclamation Banner

Online Products of the Hydraulic Investigations and Laboratory Services Group's Water Conservation Program

The performance of existing agricultural irrigation systems can be improved through more responsive management and control. These changes require improvements in auxiliary functions, such as flow measurement and delivery scheduling. The performance of enhanced systems can be characterized by both efficiency (water conservation) and effectiveness (the ability of the system to respond to the irrigator's demands for water). Automated systems can be used to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of a water delivery system.

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) has developed a number of large automated canal systems, such as the Central Arizona Project. However, the vast majority of canal systems that could benefit from these technologies are relatively small. In the past, irrigators have generally considered automated measurement and control to be too complicated and expensive, but the recent advent of economical, user friendly computer hardware and software has changed that picture.

Projects typically adopt a phased approach to the new technologies, starting with remote monitoring and then adding remote control and local automatic control. The system can generally be expanded to an integrated system that is controlled on a system-wide basis.