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A NEW ERA FOR IRRIGATION Committee on the Future of Irrigation in the Face of Competing Demands Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1996
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the board responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sci- ences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the The Ford Foundation Grant No. 930-0484, The Irrigation Association, National Water Research Institute, the Bureau of Reclamation Grant No. 3-FG-81- 19130, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service Grant No. 59-0700-2- 147. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A new era for irrigation/Committee on the Future of Irrigation in the Face of Competing Demands, Water Science and Technology Board, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-05331-5 1. Irrigation United States. 2. Irrigation farming United States. I. National Research Council (U.S). Committee on the Future of Irrigation in the Face of Competing Demands. S616.U6N47 1996 631.5'87 dc20 Original cover art by Sally Groom, Arlington, Virginia 96-25369 Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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COMMITTEE ON THE FUTURE OF IRRIGATION IN THE FACE OF COMPETING DEMANDS WILFORD GARDNER, Chair, University of California, Berkeley KENNETH FREDERICK, Vice Chair, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. MEDIA ADELSMAN, State of Washington, Olympia, Washington JOHN S. BOYER, University of Delaware, Lewes CHELSEA CONGDON, Environmental Defense Fund, Boulder, Colorado DALE F. HEERMANN, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ft. Collins, Colorado EDWARD KANEMASU, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia RONALD D. LACEWELL, Texas A&M University, College Station LAWRENCE MacDONNELL, Sustainability Initiatives, Boulder, Colorado THOMAS K. MacVICAR, MacVicar and Associates, Inc., Lake Worth, Florida STUART T. PYLE, Consulting Engineer, Bakersfield, California LESTER SNOW, San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego, California (through February 16, 1995) CATHERINE VANDEMOER, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. JAMES WATSON, Toro Company, Littleton, Colorado JAMES L. WESCOAT, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder HOWARD A. WUERTZ, Sundance Farms, Collidge, Arizona Liaison from the Water Science and Technology Board CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California National Research Council Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board ANITA A. HALL, Senior Project Assistant, Water Science and Technology Board . . .
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WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD DAVID L. FREYBERG, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California BRUCE E. RITTMANN, Vice Chair, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois LINDA M. ABRIOLA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor PATRICK L. BREZONIK, Water Resources Research Center, St. Paul, Minnesota JOHN BRISCOE, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM M. EICHBAUM, The World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. WILFORD GARDNER, University of California, Berkeley THOMAS M. HELLMAN, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, New York, New York CAROL A. JOHNSTON, University of Minnesota, Duluth WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder JOHN W. MORRIS, J.W. Morris Ltd., Arlington, Virginia CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California CHARLES R. O'MELIA, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland REBECCA T. PARKIN, American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C. IGNACIO RODRIGUEZ-ITURBE, Texas A&M University, College Station FRANK W. SCHWARTZ, Ohio State University, Columbus HENRY J. VAUX, JR., University of California, Riverside Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director SHEILA D. DAVID, Senior Staff Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Staff Officer GARY D. KRAUSS, Staff Officer JACQUELINE A. MacDONALD, Senior Staff Officer JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Associate ETAN GUMERMAN, Research Associate ANGELA F. BRUBAKER, Research Assistant ANITA A. HALL, Administrative Assistant ELLEN de GUZMAN, Project Assistant MARY BETH MORRIS, Senior Project Assistant (through July 1996) V
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COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chair, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. McCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, California JUDITH E. McDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN K. SILBERGELD, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C. STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate SUSAN SHERWIN, Project Assistant v
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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distin- guished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the Na- tional Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care,research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and interim vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. . vim
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Preface The Committee on the Future of Irrigation in the Face of Competing De- mands was asked to explore how irrigation might best make the transition into an era of increasing water scarcity. The charge resembles a description of the role of what a scientist does that appeared in the House of Solomon, written four centu- ries ago by Francis Bacon: And we do also declare natural divinations (forecasting by natural observation) of diseases, plagues, swarms of hurtful creatures, scarcity, tempests, earth- quakes, great inundations, comets, temperature of the years, and diverse other things; and we give counsel thereupon, what the people shall do for the preven- tion and remedy of them. (
even more difficult, recommendations, to the study's sponsors and the nation, from what is essentially a philosophical exploration. In the end, I am proud to say that the committee' s members have created an excellent document that explores this nation's relationship to irrigation in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way. I want to express my thanks to each of them for contributing so much time and energy to this project. I also would like to thank the study's sponsors USDA's Agricultural Research Service, DOI's Bureau of Reclamation, the Irrigation Association, the National Water Research Institute, and the Ford Foundation for their financial support and their willing- ness to seek outside guidance on sensitive issues. I would also like to thank the staff of the Water Science and Technology Board Anita Hall for her diligent support work and Chris Elfring for her behind-the-scenes leadership. No one can predict the future, but neither can we afford to ignore it. During periods of uncertainty, concerned citizens often look to "experts" to provide interpretation, guidance, and counsel. This committee was asked to peer into an uncertain future and provide advice about how best to prepare for whatever changes that future may bring. We of course can make no claims of omniscience or infallibility. Through listening, questioning, reading, and arguing with a broad cross section of people especially farmers and others with hands-on experience in irrigation and related fields the committee hoped to identify and analyze the range of key factors influencing how irrigation will evolve. We set out to explore the forces of change that affect the irrigation sector and to see how different regions are responding. From there, we hoped to find clues about where irriga- tion could and should head in the future. We hope that this report presents an accurate portrayal of what we learned and that despite our criticisms and calls for change we were able to convey our admiration for all that the practitioners of irrigation have contributed to society. We hope the next generation of farmers will respond to today's challenges with as much energy and innovation. Wilford Gardner, Chair Committee on the Future of Irrigation viii
Contents SUMMARY THE FUTURE OF IRRIGATION The Committee's Charge and Approach, 10 Defining or Divining the Future?, 12 The Historical Context, 14 Irrigation: Industry or Culture?, 16 The Future of Irrigation, 18 References, 19 THE CULTURE OF IRRIGATION What Are Cultural Perspectives and Why Do They Matter?, 24 Cultural Issues, 26 Conclusion, 40 Notes, 41 References, 41 IRRIGATION TODAY Irrigated Agriculture, 47 Water Use for Irrigation, 49 Economics of Irrigated Agriculture, 64 Irrigation and the Environment, 68 The Turfgrass Sector, 76 The Special Case of Indian Irrigation, 77 Six 8 20 46
x 5 CONTENTS Notes, 79 References, 80 FORCES OF CHANGE AND RESPONSES Profitability: A Key Influence, 84 Understanding the Relation Between Forces of Change and Responses to Change, 86 Forces of Change, 87 Responses to Change, 97 Conclusion, 120 Notes, 122 References, 122 THE IRRIGATION INDUSTRY: PATTERNS OF CHANGE AND RESPONSE Irrigation in the Great Plains: Technological and Economic Changes Associated with Dwindling Ground Water, 128 Irrigated Agriculture in California: Uncertainty and Conflict in the Face of Changing Demands, 139 Irrigation in the Pacific Northwest: Environmental Demands, Tribal Treaty Rights, and Institutional Change, 150 Irrigated Agriculture in Florida: Institutions and Industry in Transition, 160 References, 166 83 125 6 FUTURE DIRECTIONS 169 APPENDIXES A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF COMMITTEE MEMBER B ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 181 187 C GLOSSARY 190 INDEX 195
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