Economics of groundwater management alternatives in the Republican Basin
Supalla, Raymond J., author
Thompson, Christopher L., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher
In 2005 the State of Nebraska, in cooperation with local Natural Resources Districts (NRD's), implemented policies to reduce irrigation in the Republican Basin to comply with the Republican Interstate Compact. These policies limit the amount of water which irrigators can apply over a five year period. In this paper an optimization program called Water Optimizer was used to analyze the optimal irrigation management responses to these limitations and to estimate the cost to irrigators and the Basin economy. The optimal strategy was found to be deficit irrigation in most cases, with no reductions in irrigated acres until allocations were reduced to less than about 70 percent of unrestrained requirements. If optimal strategies were followed and average weather occurred, it was estimated that under current polices annual costs would be $27 per affected acre, or $278 per acre foot change in applied water to reduce irrigation. When expressed in terms of the primary policy objective, which is to reduce consumptive use, costs were found to average $344 per acre foot of decrease in evapotranspiration (ET) from irrigation. The aggregate economic effects since the control policies were implemented, however, were found to be small relative to the total regional economy. Favorable weather, high crop prices and improved agricultural technologies have mitigated much of the expected adverse impact of irrigation reductions on the regional economy.
Presented at Meeting irrigation demands in a water-challenged environment: SCADA and technology: tools to improve production: a USCID water management conference held on September 28 - October 1, 2010 in Fort Collins, Colorado.