Document Type


Publication Date

January 1973


Water is recognized as an essential element in Utah's agricultural economy. It is the subject of much controvery and litigation and yet most discussion of the subject is based on opinions and prejudice rather than upon the basis of sound scientific evidence. This paper attempts to provide some of the economic information necessary for sound decisions in the development and use of Utah's water resources with respect to agriculture. Utah has been divided into ten drainage regions (hydrologi subregions) and the presently irrigated and potentially irrigable land according to land class were estimated for each country or portion of a county within each of the regions. Water use factors, crop rotation constraints, costs of porductions, yields, product prices, and costs of bringing new land into production were also estiamted. These values were then used in a linear programming model to estiamte a normalized demand (marginal value product) schedule for water to be used in agricultural production within each regions. The amount of water made available to the production model for each hydrologic subregion was varied so that the model created a shadow price (marginal value product) at each level. These were then combined to estiamte the relationship between the quantity of water and its economic value (a demand schedule or function). The general conclusions from the study indicate that most parts of the state suffer from a water shortage in that more production could be obtained from the presently irrigated land through the use of more water and/or the tranfer of water from lands with low productivity to higher quality land. There are, however, many cases of water waste. The model is not designed to adequately evaluate the economic feasibility of water importation projects but those regions with the greatest potential for development are identified. The models indicate that, given the present cost and price structure, agriculture alone probably could not economically justify most water importation schemes at this time.