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4 Forces of Change and Responses The appearances and methods of irrigated agriculture are as varied as the geography, the climate, and the cultural backgrounds of the people who practice it. But across the nation, fundamental and potentially far-reaching changes are challenging some of the basic premises supporting the use of irrigation, at least as traditionally practiced. This chapter explores these changes and their effects on the future of irrigation. The extraordinary expansion of the use of irrigation in this century reflected, in part, its economic value it was the primary tool used to make possible the settlement and growth of the American West. The importance of irrigation prompted a number of national and state policies to support the use of irrigation. One such policy, originating from decisions made at a number of points in time, was that federally supplied water for irrigation should be subsidized; that is, irrigators should have to bear only a portion of the full costs of their use of water (Wahl, 1995~. Another policy was that a large portion of the available water supply would be committed to irrigation. This was not necessarily a conscious choice to favor irrigation, but it was the inevitable result of western water law, where those who were first to establish claims to use water had priority over any subsequent claimants (Bates et al., 1993~. Under these prior appropriation prin- ciples, common throughout the western states, water uses are determined through the act of asserting physical control over the resource, and irrigators were often among the first to meet the criteria. A third policy was that irrigation should be free from at least some of the controls that might have been applied to reduce its adverse environmental effects; this was, indirectly, a subsidy that transferred the 83
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84 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION environmental costs associated with irrigation from the individual farmer to soci ety at large. But times and the nation's needs change, and these policies and the laws based on them are now being reevaluated and modified. The extent to which irrigation has been favored in relation to other values and interests is being reconsidered, and important changes are occurring. Society's desire for a more equitable distribution of the full range of costs and benefits is a key forcing function of change. The future of irrigation will depend not only on the extent and ultimate nature of the changes, but also on the manner in which adjustments and adaptations occur (Wescoat, 1987~. PROFITABILITY: A KEY INFLUENCE At the present time, most irrigation-related decisions depend on farmers' and investors' expectations as to the profitability of the activity and the benefits and costs of irrigated relative to dryland farming. The principal determinants of the profitability of irrigated agriculture are the following: · the overall state of the agricultural economy and markets, especially the benefits and costs of irrigated relative to dryland farming; · the availability of water and its cost to the farmer and to society; · available technology and management skills; · the costs of other agricultural inputs such as labor, capital, and energy; · environmental concerns and regulations; and · institutions that influence how water might be used and the opportunity costs of using water for irrigation. State of the Agricultural Economy Investments in farming depend most importantly on the state of the agricul- tural economy in a region and, to a lesser degree, nationally. The price that farmers receive for their crops is a critical determinant of the profitability of farming. The profitability of irrigation is particularly sensitive to the level of crop prices because both crop yields and production costs are typically higher for irrigated than for dryland farming. In the past, federal farm income and price support programs have helped insulate farmers from some of the uncertainties of market prices generated by the forces of supply and demand. These programs provided an important stimulus to investments in irrigation. Availability and Cost of Water The timely availability of water for irrigation is critical for achieving good crop yields in many areas of the United States. Irrigation, by providing control
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 85 over the timing and quantity of water available to plants, increases yields and reduces weather-related risks. In arid areas, irrigation is essential to commercial crop production; in semiarid areas, irrigation enables growers to achieve much higher and more reliable crop yields and expands the types of crops that can be grown successfully. Even in humid areas, irrigation produces higher and more stable yields than dryland agriculture and can be an important hedge against drought. The willingness and ability of a farmer to irrigate depends in large part on the price and availability of water.) Access to inexpensive water was critical to the development of existing irrigated lands. The earliest irrigation involved diverting surface waters to riparian fields that could be irrigated with gravity flows. Costs rose as investments in reservoirs, pumps, and canals were required to increase assured supplies and to move water to more distant lands. Federal subsidies provided through the Bureau of Reclamation insulated some farmers from some of these cost increases. Where inexpensive or subsidized surface water was not available, cheap energy and technical breakthroughs such as turbine centrifugal pumps and improved high-speed engines reduced pumping costs and contributed to the widespread use of ground water for irrigation starting in the 1950s. How- ever, the high financial and environmental costs of developing new water sup- plies and the growing competition for existing supplies are critical factors affect- ing the future of irrigation. Available Technology and Management Skills The ability of farmers to respond to changing water supply and economic conditions and their opportunities to do so depend in part on management skills and available technologies. High costs, including labor costs, and limited sup- plies of water are major factors underlying the ongoing shift from flood and furrow to sprinkler and microirrigation systems that require less water. The successful implementation of these water-conserving systems, however, depends on a higher level of management skills. Costs of Other Agricultural Inputs The costs of labor, capital, energy, and other agricultural inputs influence the profitability of farming in general; the relative benefits and costs of dryland versus irrigated farming; and the relative advantages of alternative irrigation systems. For instance, the profitability of sprinkler and microirrigation systems, which are capital-intensive but labor-saving, is sensitive to interest and wage rates. When water must be pumped from considerable depths and is applied under pressure, energy costs are an important factor in the profitability of irriga- tion. As energy costs rise, water-saving and energy-saving irrigation systems become more attractive.
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86 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION Environmental Concerns and Regulations Irrigation developed largely outside of the influence of modern environmen- tal legislation and concerns. Irrigators claimed and diverted water from streams and aquifers and disposed of their return flows with little concern for the impacts on the quality of water bodies or on other water users. The future, however, is likely to be very different. Environmental concerns and economic realities have already brought the development of large new irrigation projects to a virtual halt. And in some areas, existing agricultural water uses are being challenged because of their impacts on water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Institutions rl~he future of irrigation also will depend on the institutions that influence the allocation of scarce water supplies among competing uses. Irrigators control many of the highest priority water rights in the West. In the past the demand to use the water for nonagricultural purposes has been relatively small. Institutional constraints on water transfers tended to keep already developed water in agricul- tural use. However, nonagricultural water demands are rising, and institutions for transferring water to other uses are developing. Consequently, irrigators are likely to have more and increasingly profitable opportunities to sell water for nonagricultural uses. UNDERSTANDING THE RELATION BETWEEN FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES TO CHANGE The forces at work to cause change and the responses to change are dynamic, interactive, and complex. To show that this is not a linear relationship and explore the nature of these processes, the committee developed a simple, illustra- tive matrix showing key forces of change and areas of response (Figure 4.1~. Of course, a two-dimensional tool cannot adequately capture the complexity of the processes, but it can convey the basic principles at work. In Figure 4.1, major factors influencing irrigation are organized into three categories: changes related to the demands on and availability of water, economic changes, and changes resulting from concerns about environmental protection. In turn, responses to these changes are discussed under three headings: responses within the irrigation community; scientific and technological responses; and institutional responses. These "forces" and "responses" do not describe completely the current status and emerging trends in irrigation, but they do appear to be the most significant factors in evaluating change within irrigation.
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 87 _ _ ~Response Areas ~ Imgation Community Science and Technology ~ Institutions Forces of Change Related to Water . . Relate to Economy Related to Eav~nment _ ~ FIGURE 4.1 Matrix of forces of change and responses. FORCES OF CHANGE The principal factors affecting the extent, nature, and profitability of irriga- tion are undergoing considerable change. These changes place pressure on irri- gation to respond if it is to remain an important means by which agriculture and landscaping are to exist in many parts of the United States. Changes Related to Water Withdrawals and Consumption Irrigation and livestock uses account for 82 percent of all consumption of water in the United States (Solley et al., 1993~. Moreover, irrigation of lawns, parks, road landscaping, and golf courses accounts for much of the public mu- nicipal use in many areas of the country. In the western United States, withdraw- als for agricultural use represent more like 80 percent of the total withdrawals and approximately 90 percent of total consumptive use. In short, irrigation is the dominant economic use of the nation's water supply. That dominance is gradually eroding. In 1950, irrigation accounted for approximately half of all water withdrawals (Solley et al., 1988~. By 1990, its share of total withdrawals declined to 40 percent. Although irrigation withdraw- als during this period generally were increasing, other withdrawals such as for urban and industrial uses were increasing even more rapidly. Historically, new demands have been met by developing additional water supplies through the construction of dams and interbasin conveyance facilities as well as ground water wells. Opportunities for such development increasingly are limited, primarily because financial and environmental consequences make the remaining potential sites less desirable. Reduction of ground water levels and aquifer storage in some areas limits additional development in these areas. Con- sequently, there is increased interest both in the reallocation of some of the
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88 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION developed water, particularly from agriculture, to new uses and also in the more efficient use of existing supplies. Value and Cost The use of large quantities of water for irrigation has been made possible, in part, by the low cost of that water. Consider that most irrigators pay less than one one-hundredth of a cent per gallon of water, some even much less than that.2 The cost of water is a function of the cost of developing and making the water available. There is no charge for the use of the water itself. As mentioned, the costs of much surface water development particularly for federally supplied water have been substantially subsidized. Financing the rehabilitation, storage, diversion, and delivery systems at market rates would cause the cost of water to increase. Reduction or elimination of the federal subsidies for delivery of Recla- mation project water would increase the cost of this source of supply as well. Otherwise, short of a governmentally imposed charge for the use of water itself or regulatory requirements imposing additional costs on the continued storage and use of water. there is little economic pressure on the cost of irrigation water from federal surface sources. Ground water pumping, on the other hand, is greatly influenced by the en- ergy costs associated with that pumping. Moreover, the greater the lift the more costly it is to pump the water. The influence of these two factors is demonstrated in Figure 4.2.3 This example shows that as energy prices increase and the level of the aquifer declines, the costs of pumping ground water in the Ogallala aquifer are increasing. Similarly, the marginal value product of ground water in the Texas High Plains was estimated to be $5.98 per acre-foot in 1969 (Beattie et al., 1978) and by 1977, with the sharp increase in energy prices during this time, the marginal value product had increased to $19.67 per acre-foot in nominal dollars (Beattie, 1981~. These increases inevitably affect consumption, although the degree is affected by a variety of variables. In addition to the increasing cost of water, there is the considerable disparity between the economic value of using water in the irrigation of pasture land and some types of crops and its value in other uses. Young (1984), for example, estimated that, while the value of water for growing fruits and some specialty crops is much higher, 90 percent of the water used for irrigated agriculture has a value of $30 per acre-foot or less. Other studies of the value of irrigation show enormous variation, based on both the type of crop and the region in which the crop is produced. Potatoes, vegetables, and fruits produce the highest values- estimated typically at several hundred dollars an acre-foot or more (Gibbons, 1986~. Pasture, sorghum, alfalfa, soybeans, corn, barley, and wheat tend to return the lowest values from $3 to $30 per acre-foot (Gibbons, 1986~. Such marked differences suggest that water staying in irrigation is likely to shift to crops producing higher economic returns. Moreover, with cities now purchasing rights
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES ~ 3.0 c' . _ c' to ~ 2.0 o 1 .5 o SO no o 89 Natural gas price (dollars/thousand cubic feet) 2 2.5 3 --- 3.5 1 ~ . _ O 100 150 200 1 1 1 1 1 250 300 350 Lift (feet) FIGURE 4.2 Ground water pumping is directly influenced by the price of energy and the distance the water must be lifted from beneath the soil surface. This example shows the relationship between lift and the cost of ground water for natural gas at various prices in the Ogallala aquifer; it assumes a sprinkler irriga- tion system operating at 45 PSI, pump and engine efficiency of 55 percent, and distribution efficiency of 75 percent. Source: Lee, 1987. to the use of an acre-foot of water for $1,000 per year and more, implying an annual value of roughly at least $100 per acre-foot or more, it is reasonable to project that some irrigation water will shift to urban uses (some of which will be used for irrigation of urban landscaping) (National Research Council, 1992~. In short, the changing nature of the values and uses of water are driving changes in the way water is used for irrigation purposes. Indian Water Rights One of the most significant potential forces of change is the settlement of American Indian water rights claims. Tribal water rights are rooted in the 1908 Supreme Court decision Winters v. United States (207 U.S.C.564), which set out what has become known as the "Winters Doctrine." The Winters Doctrine pro- vides that when the United States set aside land for a reservation. it implicitly
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9o A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION ............................................................................................................................. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ~ ^s~ compe l ~-o-n~ or wa or--- cash l-n- ensr heal link reran :~ c -ecac -es ~ Her l-m-poor Once o . ...................... . ............ ....... i ................. ... ......... ~se -I-ng~ -nicer :a-l-n~ --n-c -I-a-n~ wa erg ng 1 so c -al-n-s~ 1-as l-n-cmasec ~ -no ^n-zon-a~ or link I - - -. -. - ...... . - -. 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The date of the water right is the date of the treaty between the tribe and the United States. In most instances, tribal water rights predate all other water users, and in the context of the prior appropriation doctrine are senior to all other users. The volume of water involved in settling Indian water rights claims will be important in shaping the future of the western United States, where secure access to water is the key to many economic activities.
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 91 The implementation of the tribal water rights, that is, the change from "paper water rights" to "wet water," has only recently begun in earnest. Tribal water use is now key to tribal economic development and is at the center of much of the current debate regarding the use, management, and development of water on major river systems such as the Colorado, Columbia, Snake, and Missouri. In a 1963 case, Arizona v. California, the Supreme Court established the standard of measurement for an Indian water right as the amount of "practicably irrigable acreage" (PIA) on the reservation. As tribes enter the water rights adjudication process, calculations determining the quantity of water are based on a physical, economic, and technical evaluation of historic and proposed future irrigation projects for all of the reservation's PIA. Other water needs, including fisheries, wildlife, domestic, municipal, and industrial uses, usually add to the total tribal water claim. The potential size of tribal water rights claims should not be underestimated. For example, water rights claims of the Missouri River basin tribes could total more than 19 million acre-feet, or approximately 40 percent of the average annual flow of the Missouri (Mad Sose,1993~. As of 1995, there are more than 60 cases in courts involving the resolution of Indian water rights claims. The total amount of water potentially involved in these claims ranges from 45 million to over 60 million acre-feet (Colby et al., 1992~. As an alternative to litigation, the Depart- ment of Interior is actively engaged in 17 water rights settlement negotiations and is implementing another 13 settlements. Fewer than 10 of these efforts appear close to settlement. Table 4.1 presents settlements enacted in the last 10 years involving a total of 4.6 million acre feet of water (Colby et al., 1992~. Notwithstanding the PIA standard, recent national trends in the irrigation industry, the operations, maintenance, and replacement costs, and land tenure issues in Indian country continue to plague the use of Indian water for agriculture. Although tribes have expressed significant interest in water marketing, institu- tional barriers, state resistance, and the congressional authorization required for the interbasin and interstate marketing of Indian water remain as barriers to firmly identifying the amount of Indian water available for agricultural, instream, or other purposes. In combination with tribal water rights, many tribes have treaty rights to instream flows for fishery resources, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. The quantification, exercise, and management of these rights may profoundly influ- ence the future of irrigation by Indians and non-Indians alike. A Changing Economy The rapid and extensive development that occurred in the western part of the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century could not have happened without irrigation. Miners and the settlements that grew up in support of mining needed food. The only way crops can only be grown reliably in most
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4 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION tat purposes. Furthermore, surcharges are being imposed on water users to finance environmentally related investments, marketing of federally supplied water is promoted, and tiered water pricing to encourage conservation is man- dated. If this act provides a precedent for future legislation, many of the benefi- ciaries of past reclamation policies should expect to receive less federally sup- plied water in the future and pay more for what they do receive. The focus of federal policies affecting water use has shifted sharply over the last 25 years or so toward greater protection of remaining streamflows and recov- ery of some of the environmental and recreational values that had been lost in the drive to provide homes, factories, and farms with water. This shift is evident in a number of legislative acts. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 precludes development activities that might significantly alter an area's natural amenities on thousands of miles of rivers and streams. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 requires all federal agencies to give full consideration to environ- mental effects in planning their programs. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (commonly known as the Clean Water Act), together with the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and other legislation regulating the use and cleanup of toxic materials, have made water quality rather than water supply the driving force behind the nation's water-related investments. Requirements for protection of endangered species and their habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) are emerging as a major factor in some water manage- ment and investment decisions. Agriculture has been a prime target in the debate over reauthorization of the Clean Water Act because changes in farming practices increasingly are viewed as critical to achieving further improvements in water quality. Past efforts to im- prove the quality of the nation's rivers, lakes, and estuaries have focused on controlling municipal and industrial point-source pollutants. These efforts are encountering high costs and diminishing returns in their ability to improve the quality of these water bodies to a fully usable condition. So far, agriculture has avoided the types of controls placed on the municipal and industrial point-source pollutants because the diffuse nature of most agricultural pollutants makes them difficult to control. Initially, the Environmental Protection Agency regarded discrete return flows from irrigated agriculture as point sources (Getches et al., 1991~. Congress excluded agriculture from point-source regulation in 1977, and, since then, implementation of the Clean Water Act has not differentiated between dryland and irrigated agriculture. But this could change in areas where irrigation is a major contributor to water quality problems. Proposals for more deliberate regulation and enforcement of irrigation drainage, such as water quality standards in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where high selenium levels were deform- ing and killing migratory birds, provide a precedent for further regulation of irrigation return flows (Young and Congdon, 1994~. In 1937 the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service) was created to assist farmers in preventing soil erosion.
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 115 The mission of the SCS was subsequently expanded to address soil erosion problems at a watershed level, as well as irrigation and municipal water storage. In the 1960s and 1970s, criticism of the SCS programs focused on impacts to fish and wildlife, loss of wetlands, and drainage problems, and its mission again was changed. The 1977 Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act required Na- tional Resource Inventories as the basis for SCS activities to reduce soil erosion, improve water management, reduce upstream flood damage, improve range con- dition, and improve water quality. This trend extended to the Food Security Act of 1985, which included a strong conservation title designed to protect wetlands. Today, the NRCS, along with other USDA agencies, is actively involved in providing financial, technical, and research services to farmers to conserve and protect highly credible and environmentally sensitive lands and water quality. These changes are attributed to increasing competition over water resources, environmental concerns, and concerns for safe drinking water, recreation, and other public uses. The future mission of the NRCS is expected to be based on an ecosystem approach to resource planning to assist in meeting society's water needs and to protect, enhance, and restore natural resources (Carmack, 1994~. State, Tribal, and Local Levels Individual states and tribes set the rules managing the water resources within their boundaries. Because of the importance of irrigation to the settlement of the western United States, state water law initially developed in ways that supported the needs of irrigators. The prior appropriation doctrine emphasizes the importance of seniority, a feature that is especially favorable to irrigators, who were generally the first to put large quantities of water to use in the West. It emphasizes physical control of water as a means of establishing a legal claim, another feature that favors
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116 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION irrigation because water must be diverted out-of-stream to bring it to the fields for use. The seniority of tribal water rights now challenges the adequacy of most state water laws. In addition, the relationship between the tribes and the federal govern- ment usually requires federal government involvement. At its base, water law is a system for allocating claims to use water; it is not designed to facilitate changes of those claims (MacDonnell, 1995~. With the growing recognition of the need for reallocation of some existing water uses to new uses, states are moving to make their water laws and related review pro- cesses more able to accommodate voluntary transfers of water and water rights (MacDonnell et al., 1990~. Similarly, the Bureau of Reclamation has made efforts to accommodate voluntary transfers of USBR-supplied water. The devel- opment of tribal water codes and management systems will add another dimen- sion to the network of institutional structures related to water management. One especially promising mechanism for facilitating both temporary and permanent water transfers is the water bank (MacDonnell, 1996~. A water bank can be defined as "an institutionalized process specifically designed to facilitate the transfer of developed water to new uses." The potential effectiveness of water banks is illustrated by the successful use of this mechanism in California during the drought years of 1991,1992, and 1994. A water bank can operate at a state, regional, or local level. It can be designed specifically to meet the needs of interested parties. One attraction for holders of water rights is the ability of a water bank to facilitate rentals and leases of water in addition to the more tradi- tional approach involving the permanent sale of the water right. It offers the water right holder a choice about whether, in any given year, they would be better off renting or leasing water to another or using it themselves. It could provide water supply organizations such as irrigation districts and their water users a means of devising planned land fallowing schemes or other such approaches, similar to the arrangement involving the Palo Verde Irrigation District described above, and marketing the unused water without permanent reductions in its agri- cultural base or water rights holdings. In addition to the matter of reallocation, western water law with its empha- sis on "use-it-or-lose-it" remains in need of revision to provide incentives for more efficient water use (MacDonnell and Rice, 1994~. Under the laws of most western states, irrigators installing more efficient irrigation systems lose the abil- ity to legally use the portion of water that has been "saved." There is some logic for this: before the conservation strategy was applied, the "saved" water would have run off the land and subsequently been available to downstream users. But given the expense of installing more efficient technologies, one of the incentives that might encourage such action namely, being able to make use of the addi- tional water or to sell the water to another user is lacking. The question is whether the saved water is the property of the one making the investment to use less water for a given purpose or whether it becomes the property of the remain- ing water rights holders within the water supply system.
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 117 The state of Washington has put in place an alternative approach, one in which government would pay for the improvements in return for legal control over the water no longer needed for irrigation. In 1994, Congress enacted a bill that could make funds available to help plan for and install more efficient irriga- tion systems in the Yakima Valley (MacDonnell et al., 1995~. State and local funds also must be provided. Water saved through these improvements would then be managed by the State Department of Ecology. A difficult problem is raised by the question of whether current state water law allows overuse of water. In theory, appropriative water rights are limited to the "beneficial" use of water. Thus, for example, Colorado defines beneficial use as "the use of that amount of water that is reasonable and appropriate under reasonably efficient practices to accomplish without waste the purpose for which the appropriation is lawfully made . . ." (Colorado Revised Statutes Section 37- 92-103 (4~.) In practice, the beneficial use standard has been very loosely applied (Shupe, 1982~. It is instructive, for example, to compare the efficiency with which irrigators use water as a function of the seniority of their rights and the adequacy of their supply. Almost invariably, junior users are more efficient simply because they have to be. The question of efficiency in water policy is a complicated one. Irrigation efficiency, for example, focuses on the amount of water used by crops for their evapotranspiration compared to the amount of water either diverted, delivered, or applied for this purpose (Keller and Keller, 1995~. A modification of this tradi- tional approach views efficiency as the relationship between the amount of water "reasonably and beneficially used" to the amount of water applied. The concept of "net" irrigation efficiency takes into account subsequent use of return flows, beneficial consumptive use, and nonbeneficial consumptive use. Still another concept proposed is the term "effective" irrigation efficiency defined as the difference between "effective" inflow and "effective" outflow of water within a defined area. Like the net irrigation efficiency approach, this definition acknowl- edges return flows, but it also explicitly accounts for the need for some portion of the water supply to leach salts out of the root zone of crops. None of these approaches to evaluating efficiency considers other related issues of the costs and benefits of the water uses that are being examined, nor do they permit consideration of the costs and benefits of making changes to increase the efficiency of use. Moreover, all of the approaches focus on irrigation use of water alone, without regard for other, nonirrigation uses nor overall watershed conditions. Thus, for example, even in the approaches that consider return flows there is no recognition that diverted water might have served valuable uses be- tween the point of diversion and the point of return. Nor does it account for the possible adverse effects resulting from salts and other contaminants added to the water because of its diversion and use. Whatever analytical approach is used, it is clear that there are few positive incentives for irrigators to make the investments necessary to reduce their water
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118 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION use. The laws of most states do not allow an irrigator to transfer "saved" water to another or to increase his or her consumptive use by, for example, using the saved water to irrigate additional lands (MacDonnell and Rice, 1994~. Such restrictions are primarily intended to protect other downstream water users from possible adverse changes in their historical water supply. Oregon and Montana have addressed this concern by explicitly conditioning the ability to transfer saved water on the requirement that there be no injury to other water rights. Given the absence of economic incentives, voluntary conservation efforts may not be sufficient. Consequently, some states and local water districts are turning to regulatory approaches to require more efficient water use. California has used its authority regarding "reasonable use" of water to require the Imperial Irrigation District to increase its water use efficiency (California State Water Resources Control Board, 1984~. Oregon is proposing the institution of water conservation plans that would limit all uses to prescribed maximum amounts of water. Arizona is gradually reducing the allowable water duties for crops irri- gated with ground water within described "active management areas" (MacDonnell and Rice, 1994~. Tribal water rights settlements involving irrigation specify project water duties, efficiencies, and systems. The critical decline in the level of the Ogallala aquifer in some areas has prompted regulatory responses at both the state and the local level. For example, well spacing requirements of some kind now exist for ground water development from the Ogallala aquifer in all of the states where it is found (Opie, 1993~. Requirements for measuring withdrawals also now are common. In a few cases, users themselves have even imposed limits on the amounts of ground water that can be withdrawn beyond those provided in their original allocation (Kromm and White, 1992~. In addition to regulatory approaches, states and water districts are providing financial assistance as an incentive to implement water conservation practices. One form of such assistance is by providing low-interest loans to farmers to make soil or water conservation investments. The low-interest loans could be used to purchase distribution systems that are more technically efficient because of im- proved distribution efficiency or use of lower water pressure. Thus, theoretically, less water and much less energy could produce the same level of crop yield. However, with improved efficiency of water use and lower energy use, annual water use will not necessarily decrease because farms could use the conserved water to increase production on additional acreage. Irrigation water supply orga- nizations have played a central role in the development of irrigation. As the needs shift from developing and delivering a water supply to solving a more complex set of problems, including pressure to ensure the continuing availability of water in a time of increasing competition and increasing concern about the environmental effects of irrigation, irrigation water supply organizations face different challenges. In many cases, these organizations are demonstrating real leadership in helping irrigation meet these challenges. In other cases, they seem
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 119 caught in their more narrow traditional role and set to resist change rather than to facilitate it. They are key institutions with the potential to serve a critical func- tion in ensuring that irrigation has a sustainable future. Their record to this point in serving this function, however, is mixed. Ground water overdraft is one of many examples in which flawed institu- tions are delaying efforts to manage water resources effectively and to plan intelligently for the future. The mixture of water laws adopted by each state often depended on how arid the land was. Today, water law in the arid West protects senior users from supply interruptions and ensures that water entitlements will actually be employed, but efficiency is sacrificed. The prior appropriation doc- trine and custom spell out an orderly way to allocate water resources, but they compromise the potential benefits of the resource through cumbersome treatment of water rights transfers. Fortunately, state law also is changing to reflect increased interest in main- taining and protecting instream or in-place uses of water (MacDonnell and Rice, 1993~. The long-held view that water should be managed almost exclusively for its out-of-stream uses, such as irrigation, is giving way to an increasingly widely held view that the ecological and recreational values of water are at least as important. To date, the changes in the laws of the western states regarding instream flows have had little direct effect on irrigation because the rights allocat- ing water to irrigation use are very senior. Indirectly, however, attention to the in-place benefits of water highlights the massive manipulation of the rivers of the West that has occurred to facilitate irrigation. It raises questions, at a minimum, about whether there are ways in which existing irrigation needs can be met with less impairment of instream values. Watershed-based approaches to water management are emerging in many areas, sometimes led by state, tribal, and federal agencies and sometimes driven by local interests (Natural Resources Law Center, 1995~. Typically, these "wa- tershed" initiatives are motivated by some overriding problem that is not being adequately addressed within the traditional legal and management structure. The watershed initiative institutes its own structure that includes the interests neces- sary to make desired change. Assuming agreement is reached on the nature of the change, the collective influence of the interests is used to produce the necessary institutional changes. Not uncommonly, traditional irrigation uses of water are a focus of these watershed efforts because these uses tend to dominate out-of- stream water use in many areas. One well-known example of a watershed approach is Henry's Fork in Idaho, in which irrigation interests and others interested in improving and protecting streamflows in one of the premier trout fishing streams in the United States found sufficient common benefits to be able to work together with great success (Brown and Swenson, 1995~. In the Yakima Basin of Washington, one of the leading irrigated agricultural areas in the country, agricultural interests spearheaded the formation of the Yakima River Watershed Council in 1994 (Farm Credit Ser
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120 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION vices, 1995~. This initiative was motivated by a recognition that the future viability of the agricultural economy in the basin depends on changes in the historical manner in which irrigation water is allocated and used (MacDonnell et al., 1995~. Changes are needed both to enhance the treaty-based salmon and steelhead fisheries in the basin and to better meet existing and changing agricul- tural water uses. For the Columbia River system, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission has proposed significant changes to the mix of irrigation, hy- dropower, and navigation operations with the goal of improving the condition and quantity of treaty-protected salmon stocks. Irrigated agriculture has become increasingly separated from its urban-based neighbors. Watershed-based approaches to addressing changing water needs offer important opportunities for irrigation interests to connect in a more inte- grated way with emerging interests in other uses of water. They provide a vehicle for educating people about irrigation as well as for exploring ways in which agricultural needs for water can still be met while possibly providing benefits to other users. They provide a potentially important opportunity for irrigation water supply organizations to act positively in representing irrigation interests. Such approaches are no panacea. They can be very time consuming, and their success often depends on intangible factors such as the personalities in- volved. They need to have the full commitment and participation of all key interests for their efforts to bear fruit. They often have funding and staffing problems, and they may be perceived as a threat by those representing traditional institutional interests. Nevertheless, watershed initiatives are taking hold in enough locations that they now represent a distinct and important approach to water management. They will be an important element in determining the future of irrigation. CONCLUSION In order to glimpse the future of irrigation in the face of competing demands for water, it is necessary first to identify and understand the forces of change affecting irrigators and how the farming community is responding. This chapter has addressed three forces of change competition over water supplies, changing economic conditions, and environmental concerns that appear to be the major determinants today in the practice of irrigation. Irrigators are responding to these factors in different ways and at different levels, ranging from the farm level, to the local or regional level (e.g., the irrigation district), to the level of state, federal, and tribal governments. Their responses are affected by developments in science and technology, adaptations within the agricultural community, and re- forms in institutions and policies related to irrigation. When these processes are examined at a national level, certain trends emerge and patterns repeat themselves, making it possible to glean a general understand- ing of the direction of change in irrigation, and possible irrigation "futures." The matrix presented in this chapter (Figure 4.1) provides a framework for examining
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 121 and analyzing patterns of change and response, focusing on but a few of the myriad factors affecting irrigation. This tool is potentially useful for organizing a picture of a highly complex and dynamic activity. At the same time, a limitation of the matrix is that it is static and therefore does not capture the dynamic nature of the pressure-response relationship. The seemingly independent factors that determine both the present and the future of irrigation are, in fact, interactive. Also, over time the adjustments irrigators make will have some feedback effect on the forces of change that caused them. For example, where environmental problems lead to adjustments by the agricultural community to mitigate them, that response may give rise to another pressure or factor for change. Finally, the matrix does not reflect the dimensions of time or spatial scale, which are key elements of sustainability. Some patterns of change and response may take place in a few years, whereas others last many decades. Similarly, these patterns are seen on individual farms, watersheds, or landscapes. Although the forces of change and response described in this chapter are the most significant factors common to the future of irrigation nationwide, the matrix does not account for regional, cultural, and other differences within irrigation as a whole. Change occurs differently and to different degrees depending on the context in which it occurs. Responses are similarly site specific, varying accord- ing to the experience of and technology available to irrigators and the role and capacity of supporting institutions. Competition over developed surface water supplies occurs differently in California than in the Southeast and with different impacts (e.g., increased water prices, institutional changes, demands for new supplies). Whether irrigators respond by selling their rights, improving their irrigation efficiency, or turning to litigation depends on the context. Chapter 5 presents a series of case studies to illustrate the major forces of change affecting irrigation in the agriculture and turfgrass sectors and how irriga- tors in different regions are responding. The case studies provide insights into many questions about the future of irrigation. For example, what are the issues and patterns of change common to irrigation throughout the country, and where do they vary among regions? What are the most significant forces shaping irrigation in a given region? How are irrigators responding? Are these responses of a short-term or long-term nature? Are they likely to significantly transform the industry, or are they merely an adjustment? Are some responses more "success- ful" than others? What are the most limiting factors for irrigation in the future? What opportunities for reform are suggested for the public and private sector institutions related to irrigation, and what should the role of these institutions be? Is the future implied by these changes and responses a sustainable one? To date, agricultural irrigation has demonstrated a remarkable resilience and flexibility in response to changes in market conditions, pesticide and environ- mental regulations, conservation requirements, policy reforms, and even climate change. The net effect of current pressures on irrigation in the United States will depend in large part on how the industry responds and ultimately adapts to these changes.
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22 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION NOTES 1. Price is the amount paid or charged for water in a transaction between two people and/or entities. Cost involves two components all the financial outlays of individuals or entities necessary for water to be available (e.g., the costs of constructing and operating conveyance facilities) and other values foregone when the water is removed from its original use. 2. This figure assumes a cost of water of $30 per acre-foot or less, an amount that is on the high end of what most irrigators pay to use water. By comparison, the cost of urban water averages $1.66 per thousand gallons or 16/100 of a cent per gallon, which would include treatment and delivery system. (American Water Works Association, 1992, p. 79.) 3. Lee (1987) has calculated the cost of ground water in the Great Plains with the following equation: WC = 0.0014539*PNG*(Lift +(2.31*PSI)/(EFPMP*EFDS)), where WC = cost of pump- ing per acre-inch, Lift = feet from water table to surface, PSI = pressure requirement in pounds per square inch, PNG = price of natural gas in thousand cubic feet, EFPMP = pump engine efficiency, and EFDS = water distribution efficiency. REFERENCES Bates, S., D. Getches, L. MacDonnell, and C. Wilkinson. 1993. Searching Out the Headwaters: Change and Rediscovery in Western Water. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. Beard, D. P. 1993. Blueprint for Reform: The Commissioner's Plan for Reinventing Reclamation. Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, D.C. Beard, D. P. 1994. Remarks before the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, Varna, Bulgaria, May 18. Beattie, B. R. 1981. Irrigated Agriculture and the Problems and Policy Alternatives. Western Journal of Agricultural Economics 7:289-299 (December). Beattie, B. R., M. D. Frank, and R. D. Lacewell. 1978. The economic value of water in the western United States. In Proceedings of a Conference on Legal, Institutional, and Social Aspects of Irrigation and Drainage and Water Resource Planning and Management. New York: American Society of Civil Engineers. Brown, J., and D. Swenson. 1995. The Henry's Fork: Finding mutual interest in the watershed. In Conference on Sustainable Use of the West's Water. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Bureau of Reclamation. 1987. Assessment '87: A New Direction for the Bureau of Reclamation. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Reclamation. Bureau of Reclamation. 1992. Reclamation's Strategic Plan. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Recla- mation. California State Water Resources Control Board. 1984. Misuse of Water by Imperial Irrigation District, Decision 1600. Sacramento, Calif.: California State Water Resources Control Board. Carmack, W. J. 1994. Remarks for Workshop on the Future of Irrigation, Irvine, Calif., June 2. Checchio, E., and B. G. Colby. 1993. Indian Water Rights: Negotiating the Future. Tucson, Ariz.: Water Resources Research Center. Cone, D. G., and D. Wichelns. 1993. Responding to water quality problems through improved management of agricultural water. In Symposium on Water Organizations in a Changing West. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Environmental Protection Agency. 1994. National Water Quality Inventory: 1992 Report to Con- gress. EPA 841-R-94-001. Washington, D.C.: Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. Faeth, P. 1995. Growing Green: Enhancing the Economic and Environmental Performance of U.S. Agriculture. Washington D.C.: World Resources Institute. Farm Credit Services. 1995. Yakima water users team up to resolve water issues, Yields Spokane, Wash. August.
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FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES 123 Getches, D. H., L. MacDonnell, and T. Rice. 1991. Controlling Water Use: The Unfinished Bus ness of Water Quality Protection. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Gibbons, D. C. 1986. The Economic Value of Water. Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future. Hillel, D. 1987. The Efficient Use of Water in Irrigation. Technical Paper No. 64. New York: The World Bank. Keller, J., and R. D. Bliesner. 1990. Sprinkle and Trickle Irrigation Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Keller, A. A., and J. Keller. 1995. Effective Efficiency: A Water Use Efficiency Concept for Allocating Freshwater Resources. Discussion Paper No. 22. Washington, D.C.: Center for Economic Policy Studies, Winrock International. Kromm, D., and S. White. 1992. Ground Water Exploitation in the High Plains. Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas. Lee, J. G. 1987. Risk implications of the transition to dryland agricultural production on the Texas High Plains. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A & M Univer sity, College Station. 1~/raac~c~ A a-~1 1) A-~1mrc~- 1 a7Q , .., _ .~ .... And the Desert Shall Rejoice: Conflict, Growth, and Justice in Arid Environments. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. MacDonnell, L. 1995. Water banks: Untangling the gordian knot of western water. Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute 41:22.1-22.63. MacDonnell, L. 1996. Managing Reclamation Facilities for Ecosystem Benefits. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. MacDonnell, L., and T. Rice, eds. 1993. Instream Flow Protection in the West, rev. ed. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. MacDonnell, L., and T. Rice. 1994. Moving agricultural water to cities: The search for smarter approaches. Hastings West-Northwest Journal 2:27-54. MacDonnell, L., F. L. Brown, C. W. Howe, and T. A. Rice. 1990. The Water Transfer Process as a Management Option for Meeting Changing Water Demands. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. MacDonnell, L., R. Wahl, and B. Driver. 1991. Facilitating Voluntary Transfers of Bureau of Reclamation-Supplied Water. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Marx, J., and S. M. Williams. 1995. Water Rights Administration on Indian Reservation. Proceed- ings, Albuquerque Conference, American Bar Association. Moore, M. R., and C. A. McGuckin. 1988. Program crop production and federal irrigation water. In Agricultural Resources: Cropland, Water and Conservation Situation and Outlook. Report AR- 12. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. National Research Council. 1984. Genetic Engineering of Plants Agricultural Research Opportu- nities and Policy Concerns. Board on Agriculture. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Pp. 83. National Research Council. 1989. Irrigation-Induced Water Quality Problems. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. National Research Council. 1992. Water Transfers in the West, Efficiency, Equity, and the Environ- ment. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Natural Resources Law Center. 1995. Watershed Sourcebook: Citizen-Initiated Solutions to Natural Resources Problems. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Opie, J. 1993. Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press. Shupe, S. 1982. Waste in western water law: A blueprint for change. University of Oregon Law Review 61:483-510. Solley, W. B., C. F. Merk, R. R. Pierce, and H. A. Perlamn. 1993. Estimated use of water in the United States in 1990. USGS Circular 1801. Stavins, R., and Z. Willey. 1983. Trading Conservation Investments for Water: A Proposal for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to Obtain Additional Colorado River Water by Financing Water Conservation Investments for the Imperial Irrigation District. Berkeley, Calif.: Environmental Defense Fund.
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24 A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1994. Agricultural Resources and Environmental Indicators. Eco- nomic Research Service, Natural Resources and Environmental Division, Agricultural Hand- book 705. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wahl, R. W. 1995. Natural Resources Subsidies. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. Watson, J. R., H. E. Kaerwer, and D. P. Martin. 1992. The Turfgrass Industry. In Turfgrass. Waddington, Carrow, and Shearman, eds. Agronomy Monograph No. 32. Madison, Wis. Ameri- can Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Socity of America, Soil Science Society of America. Wescoat, J. L. 1987. The practical range of choice in water resources geography. Progress in Human Geography 11:41-59. Wilcox, D. S., and M. J. Bean, eds. 1994. The Big Kill: Declining Biodiversity in America's Lakes and Rivers. New York: Environmental Defense Fund. Woolf, S., B. Shepard, F. Peebles, C. Pintler, and J. Cofer. 1994. The on-farm perspective: Trends and challenges. Presntations at Workshop on the Future of Irrigation, National Research Coun- cil, Irvine, Calif., June 2-4. Worster, D. 1985. Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity and the Growth of the American West. New York: Pantheon. Wyatt, A. W. 1991. Water management southern High Plains of Texas. In Symposium on Innovation in Western Water Law and Management. Boulder, Colo.: Natural Resources Law Center. Young, R. 1984. Local and regional economic impacts. In Water Scarcity: Impacts on Western Agriculture. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. Young, T. F., and C. H. Congdon. 1994. Plowing New Ground: Using Economic Incentives to Control Water Pollution from Agriculture. Oakland, Calif.: Environmental Defense Fund. Zilberman, D. 1994. The effect of economics and agricultural policies on the future of irrigation. Presentation for the Workshop on the Future of Irrigation, National Research Council, Irvine, Calif., June 2-4.
Representative terms from entire chapter: