Demonstration of Agricultural Impacts Analysis Linked to Water Management Solutions

Project ID: 8037
Principal Investigator: Bob Hamilton
Research Topic: Groundwater Storage
Funded Fiscal Years: 2005
Keywords: None

Research Question

Reclamation is cooperating with Colorado State University (CSU) researchers in analyzing the sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the Arkansas Valley from waterlogging and salinization of irrigation water. Additional research proposals from CSU include a proposal to evaluate the rehabilitation of existing drains in the Arkansas River Valley.

This Science and Technology (S&T) Program scoping research project will focus on how best to integrate Reclamation's ability to evaluate on-farm economic costs and returns using an optimization model with the output from existing hydrology models. The economic model will provide information about on-farm profitability and possible changes in irrigation technology choices resulting from changes in the quantity of surface and ground water irrigation supplies and/or the effects of salinization.

The water supply data will be provided by hydrology models developed by CSU researchers in tandem with Reclamation hydrologists, soil scientists, and agricultural engineers.

Need and Benefit

As Reclamation engineers continue to expand their knowledge of interactions between surface and ground water supplies, their management of those water resources also expand to the benefit of irrigation districts and other multiple use criteria. This information is being collected over an increasingly large area throughout the Western United States. Since much of the data is being collected for lands being served by Reclamation, it makes sense to add economic decisionmaking tools to the hydrological management tools being developed. Adding economic tools to the hydrology tools provides more information to decisionmakers, thus allowing better management decisions. Additionally, information about how irrigators might respond to changes in water supplies can provide hints as to possible changes in irrigation technology.

This scoping proposal intends to address how to add economic model outputs in a meaningful way to the outputs from hydrology models so that a more complete picture of impacts can be seen.

Whenever a change is seen in irrigation water supplies or changes in irrigation water management, there will be resultant changes in on-farm profitability. By adding a regional agricultural impact model to the hydrology models, on-farm profitability for multiple regions can be assessed simultaneously for a single region or for an entire river basin.

Ultimately, if water management solutions are to be ranked, an assessment of costs and returns must be available. This will include identifying irrigation technology investments, costs of each management solution, and the benefits being derived from investing in the new technology. This is the kind of information that will be incorporated into an economic decision model.

Existing economic optimization models used by economists in Reclamation have been developing the ability to assess small changes in yields given a change in water supply. The management data being developed both at CSU and within Reclamation can enhance the value of the existing economic model by expanding the geographic and geospatial relationships that the model is capable of analyzing.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20