Water degradation implications when whole-farm irrigation water is binding


Myles J. Watts, Joseph Atwood, Bruce R. Beattie


Water Resources and Economics


This paper demonstrates that with a binding resource constraint, such as water rights in the western United States, policy instruments that are effective in reducing water degradation associated with irrigated agriculture are likely to differ from those policies found effective in the absence of resource constraints. Under plausible circumstances, modest increases in per unit water charges will have no effect upon hectares irrigated or per hectare water application rates. Higher annual irrigation setup costs such as higher irrigated land taxes will result in reduced irrigated hectares with increased water applied per irrigated hectare and more chemical application per irrigated hectare. Such adjustments have the potential to exacerbate water contamination.



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