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When deciding which irrigation systems to adopt, permit, or promote, it is important to consider how their efficiency and losses affect the water balance of Utah’s watersheds and drainage basins. Irrigators have no control over precipitation and only limited control of surface waters entering and leaving the state, as most of those are controlled by legal agreements. However, Utah’s water managers, elected officials, and water users can consider how surface water flows and groundwater storage is affected by using more efficient irrigation systems. Sprinkler, surface, or drip irrigation systems each have trade-offs in irrigation application efficiency, cost, and other factors. To make comparisons between systems, this fact sheet will define irrigation application efficiency, describe the destinations of irrigation water losses, and discuss how the fraction of recoverable water losses differ for various irrigation delivery systems and what that means for the overall water balance in Utah.
Crookston, B., Peters, T., Yost, M., & Barker, B. (2022). Irrigation water loss and recovery in Utah [Fact sheet]. Utah State University Extension.