Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Economics and Finance
The economic well-being of the semi-arid intermountain area requires efficient use of available water supplies. Agriculture, the major water-consuming industry, depends on irrigation water. The adoption of sprinkler systems that increase irrigation "efficiencies" and increase water available for irrigation upstream may interfere with the "tenure" of downstream water rights. The farmers would like to use the water saved to irrigate additional acreages or crop to provide greater profits.
The problem in letting farmers expand their irrigated acreage is that the individual farmer increases his profits through increased consumptive use. The consequent reduction in return flows reduces the water available to the downstream irrigators and violates their proper rights. Water rights administrators have a responsibility to both groups. They need to protect downstream water rights. In doing so, the policies should not deny those who install new sprinkler systems the right to any water they really save from wasteful consumptive use (e.g., by weeds or evaporation).
A linear programing model was developed to determine to evaluate the effect of changes in irrigation technology on consumptive use and return flows for downstream users within the Sevier River Basin. The model was constructed in two sectors. The agriculture sector incorporated field slopes and soil types as represented by land classifications, consumptive use for nine crops, four on-farm irrigation systems: flood and sprinkler irrigation systems with lined and unlined ditches.
The hydrological flow integrated the return flows, outflows of one county with the inflows in the next downstream county. The water available within the county plus the inflow determine the water available for diversion. In addition, water diversions and available irrigated acreages were constrained to the limits imposed by the State Engineer's Office as a means of protecting property rights.
Modern systems would be adopted with the present acreage and diversion restrictions. Basin output would increase; however, downstream water rights 1vill not be met. With the relaxation of acreage limitations, basin output again increases.
Maximization from a basinwide output indicates that society will gain by the adoption of new irrigation systems.
Again, water rights as presently held would not be met. The Federal and State costs sharing program could also aggravate the water rights problem if not properly handled.
Thereby by facilitating the transfer of water rights society stands to gain. Where the private incentive may differ from the basin's optimum, the study also provides sprinkler acreage limitations and recommendations which will allow the basin to achieve the optimum output.
Should the acreages be less than a basin optimum, subsidy programs would encourage the farmers to move to the optimum.
Frickel, Theodore R., "Economic Impacts of Irrigation Technologies in the Sevier River Basin" (1980). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 3365.
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