"Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin"
TASK 1 Irrigation District Studies
  Agricultural Engineering Agricultural Economics  
  Objectives
Procedures
Literature Review
Objectives
Procedures
Current Work
Literature Review
 
       

Agricultural Engineering

Objectives:

Evaluate irrigation district infrastructure needs to develop strategies to efficiently deliver water for agricultural use, and to facilitate the adoption of efficient irrigation technologies.

Procedures:

1.1. Assist the Texas Water Development Board and the Bureau of Reclamation to develop criteria for ranking and prioritizing district rehabilitation projects. (TAEX)

1.2. Develop the methodology and procedures for determining water saving benefits from district rehabilitation projects. Evaluate and modify as needed by applying these methods to specific district projects. Provide training to districts, agency personnel and consultants on these methods through workshops and electronic media. (TAEX)

1.3. Provide technical assistance to Bureau of Reclamation, Texas Water Development Board and districts on design, implementation, and evaluation of district rehabilitation projects. (TAEX)

1.4. Produce publications and a web site for dissemination project results and water savings achieved. (TAEX)

Literature Review:

The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation conducted numerous rehabilitation projects for the canal and delivery systems of the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the decades of the 60's, 70's, and 80s. Most were implemented with Bureau of Reclamation funds, and expected benefits outweighed costs. One study (Gray, 1971) examined the institutional structures of irrigation districts in the region and analyzed the economics of delivery system rehabilitation. Gray found benefit-cost ratios less than 1.0 for the four districts he examined, but he assumed that conserved water would be used for less profitable crops such as grain sorghum. In contrast, today and in the future, conserved water would likely be used by municipalities or to grow high-value crops. More recent economic investigations have examined rehabilitation costs at a more aggregate level. These include Integrated Water Resource Plan (Lower Rio Grande Development Council, 1998) and the Senate Bill 1 (SB1) water plan (Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group, 2000). The former resulted when the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRVDC) recognized the growing pressure on the water supply system and obtained funds to examine what infrastructure improvements and institutional options were available to address the growing water scarcity in the region. Primary rehabilitation options examined in the LRVDC plan included concrete lining of the leakiest sections of canals (both primary and secondary) within the region. Expected water savings were based upon limited canal leakage studies in the region and expert opinion. The average conveyance efficiency in the Lower Rio Grand Valley is only 70.8%, while the potential is 90% (Fipps, 2000). It is expected the other districts in the border region have similar or lower efficiencies. Fipps (2000) defines conveyance efficiency as a measurement of water losses from the river (or diversion point) to the field turnout in terms of transportation, operational and accounting losses. Some types of losses such as seepage can only be solved through lining or pipeline replacement. Other types, such as some spills, can be reduced by improving the management of the distribution networks.

 

Bureau of Reclamation. 2001. Draft Guidelines for Preparing and Reviewing Proposals for Water Conservation and Improvement Projects Under Public Law 106-576. Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Resources Conservation and Improvement Act of 2000. March 15.

Corps of Engineers. 2000. Personal communication from the Galveston Office.

Fipps, Guy. 2000. Potential Water Savings in Irrigated Agriculture for the Rio Grande Planning Region (Region M). Final Report. Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University System. December 22.

Gray, R.M. 1971. A Study of the Effects of Institutions for the Distribution and Use of Water for Irrigation in the Lower Rio Grande Basin. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University. College Station, TX.

Lacewell, Ronald D. and Roger Freeman. 1990. Agricultural Benefit Estimator: Documentation, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. 1998. Integrated Water Resource Plan. McAllen, Texas.

Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. 2000. Regional Water Supply Plan for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Area (Region M). McAllen, TX.

Robinson, John. 2001. Crop and Livestock Enterprise Budgets for the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

Robinson, John R.C., Ronald D. Lacewell, John R. Stoll, and Roger Freeman. "Estimating Agricultural Benefits from Drainage Over a Relatively Level Terrain." Agricultural Water Management. 21 (1992): 79-91.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2000. Normalized Prices to be used for National Economic Analysis as outlined in the Principles and Guidelines. Economic Research Service, Washington, D. C.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1959. Installation of Natural Gas Engines in River Pumping Plants No. 2 & 3, Mercedes Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1963. Clearing, Earthwork, Concrete Lining & Structures for Rehabilitation of 10.3 Lateral System, La Feria Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1969. Clearing, Earthwork, Concrete Lining & Structures for Rehabilitation of C & G Lateral Systems, Mercedes Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

Walkoviak, Larry P. 2001. Personal Communication. January 11.

Water and Power Resources Service. 1979. "Specifications for River PumpingPlant Under Contract 14-06-500-529, Lower Rio Grand Rehabilitation Project, Mercedes Division, Texas." Denver, CO.

 

Agricultural Economics

Objectives:

Evaluate irrigation district infrastructure needs to develop strategies to efficiently deliver water for agricultural use, and to facilitate the adoption of efficient irrigation technologies.

Procedures:

Utilize data from engineering studies conducted by TAEX to serve as the basis for estimating the costs and benefits of conservation efforts in the Valley. Conduct benefit-cost analyses to estimate the economic effect of water conservation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, including projecting the expenses associated with rehabilitation and the benefits that will be created over the life of the project. Using computer models, estimate the economic effect of water conservation measures, including a possible shift to dryland farming, of potential future water shortages on agricultural activities in the region. Determine if the Agricultural Benefit Evaluator model can be applied to estimating costs and benefits of water infrastructure improvements in the Valley. Develop estimates of costs and benefits associated with water conservation for each irrigation district in the Valley, detailing likely changes in cropping patterns and land uses over a 50-year planning horizon. (TAES: Rister, Lacewell, Ellis, Robinson, Freeman)

Current Work:

Current activities address estimates of water demands in this region, as well as the economics of water management decisions, are a result of State-mandated water planning work required by Texas Senate Bill 1, which was passed in 1997. Although this water planning process is comprehensive, it did not specifically address the water resources needs of individual irrigation districts. So far, studies have conducted to estimate the potential water savings, and associated costs and benefits that are likely to be associated with measures to improve the efficiency of water distribution systems as well as on-farm water use. Estimates have been developed of the costs and benefits of rehabilitating and improving the water infrastructure throughout whole planning regions, but have not been conducted for specific areas served by irrigation districts. More detailed studies are needed to examine the specific water-saving measures that have been proposed to assist irrigation districts and their customers.

Literature Review:

The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation conducted numerous rehabilitation projects for the canal and delivery systems of the Lower Rio Grande Valley during the decades of the 60's, 70's, and 80s. Most were implemented with Bureau of Reclamation funds, and expected benefits outweighed costs. One study (Gray, 1971) examined the institutional structures of irrigation districts in the region and analyzed the economics of delivery system rehabilitation. Gray found benefit-cost ratios less than 1.0 for the four districts he examined, but he assumed that conserved water would be used for less profitable crops such as grain sorghum. In contrast, today and in the future, conserved water would likely be used by municipalities or to grow high-value crops. More recent economic investigations have examined rehabilitation costs at a more aggregate level. These include Integrated Water Resource Plan (Lower Rio Grande Development Council, 1998) and the Senate Bill 1 (SB1) water plan (Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group, 2000). The former resulted when the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRVDC) recognized the growing pressure on the water supply system and obtained funds to examine what infrastructure improvements and institutional options were available to address the growing water scarcity in the region. Primary rehabilitation options examined in the LRVDC plan included concrete lining of the leakiest sections of canals (both primary and secondary) within the region. Expected water savings were based upon limited canal leakage studies in the region and expert opinion.

Corps of Engineers, 2000. Personal communication from the Galveston Office.

Gray, R.M. 1971. A Study of the Effects of Institutions for the Distribution and Use of Water for Irrigation in the Lower Rio Grande Basin. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Texas A&M University. College Station, TX.

Lacewell, Ronald D. and Roger Freeman. 1990. Agricultural Benefit Estimator: Documentation, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. 1998. Integrated Water Resource Plan. McAllen, Texas.

Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. 2000. Regional Water Supply Plan for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Area (Region M). McAllen, TX.

Robinson, John. 2001. Crop and Livestock Enterprise Budgets for the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

Robinson, John R.C., Ronald D. Lacewell, John R. Stoll, and Roger Freeman. "Estimating Agricultural Benefits from Drainage Over a Relatively Level Terrain." Agricultural Water Management. 21 (1992): 79-91.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2000. Normalized Prices to be used for National Economic Analysis as outlined in the Principles and Guidelines. Economic Research Service, Washington, D. C.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1959. Installation of Natural Gas Engines in River Pumping Plants No. 2 & 3, Mercedes Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1963. Clearing, Earthwork, Concrete Lining & Structures for Rehabilitation of 10.3 Lateral System, La Feria Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. 1969. Clearing, Earthwork, Concrete Lining & Structures for Rehabilitation of C & G Lateral Systems, Mercedes Division, Texas, Lower Rio Grande Rehabilitation Project.

Water and Power Resources Service. 1979. "Specifications for River Pumping Plant Under Contract 14-06-500-529, Lower Rio Grand Rehabilitation Project, Mercedes Division, Texas." Denver, CO.