Irrigation efficiency and water-policy implications for river-basin resilience

Scott, C. A. and Vicuña, S. and Blanco Gutiérrez, Irene and Meza, F. and Varela Ortega, Consuelo (2014). Irrigation efficiency and water-policy implications for river-basin resilience. "Hydrology And Earth System Sciences", v. 18 (n. 4); pp. 1339-1348. ISSN 1027-5606. https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-18-1339-2014.

Description

Title: Irrigation efficiency and water-policy implications for river-basin resilience
Author/s:
  • Scott, C. A.
  • Vicuña, S.
  • Blanco Gutiérrez, Irene
  • Meza, F.
  • Varela Ortega, Consuelo
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Hydrology And Earth System Sciences
Date: April 2014
ISSN: 1027-5606
Volume: 18
Subjects:
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Agrónomos (UPM) [antigua denominación]
Department: Economía Agraria, Estadística y Gestión de Empresas
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Abstract

Rising demand for food, fiber, and biofuels drives expanding irrigation withdrawals from surface water and groundwater. Irrigation efficiency and water savings have become watchwords in response to climate-induced hydrological variability, increasing freshwater demand for other uses including ecosystem water needs, and low economic productivity of irrigation compared to most other uses. We identify three classes of unintended consequences, presented here as paradoxes. Ever-tighter cycling of water has been shown to increase resource use, an example of the efficiency paradox. In the absence of effective policy to constrain irrigated-area expansion using "saved water", efficiency can aggravate scarcity, deteriorate resource quality, and impair river basin resilience through loss of flexibility and redundancy. Water scarcity and salinity effects in the lower reaches of basins (symptomatic of the scale paradox) may partly be offset over the short-term through groundwater pumping or increasing surface water storage capacity. However, declining ecological flows and increasing salinity have important implications for riparian and estuarine ecosystems and for non-irrigation human uses of water including urban supply and energy generation, examples of the sectoral paradox. This paper briefly considers three regional contexts with broadly similar climatic and water-resource conditions – central Chile, southwestern US, and south-central Spain – where irrigation efficiency directly influences basin resilience. The comparison leads to more generic insights on water policy in relation to irrigation efficiency and emerging or overdue needs for environmental protection.

More information

Item ID: 40263
DC Identifier: http://oa.upm.es/40263/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:40263
DOI: 10.5194/hess-18-1339-2014
Official URL: http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/18/1339/2014/
Deposited by: Memoria Investigacion
Deposited on: 05 May 2016 17:01
Last Modified: 05 May 2016 17:01
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