"Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin"
TASK 3 – Institutional Incentives for Efficient Water Use
  Agricultural Engineering Agricultural Economics  
  Objectives
Procedures
Literature Review
Objectives
Procedures
Current Work
Literature Review
 
       

Agricultural Engineering

Objectives:

Identify current legal and institutional barriers that keep irrigation districts and producers from investing in and/or creating incentives for water conservation. Provide technical assistance, applied research and educational programs for the region’s irrigation districts on improved district water management and modernization.

Procedures:

3.1 In cooperation with the TWDB and the TNRCC, establish training and certification programs for canal riders and other district personnel on water accounting, management and delivery. (TAEX)

3.2. Coordinate with the on-farm demonstrations to evaluate the feasibility of districts to support improved technologies and management practices. (TAEX)

3.3. In cooperation with districts, implement and evaluate emerging technologies for automatic gate and flow control, canal lining and maintenance. (TAEX)

3.4. Support the continued development and implementation of a Geographical Information System (GIS)-based District Management System (DMS) for organizing and managing all aspects of district water accounting, delivery, operation and maintenance. Provide direct technical assistance to districts to implement the DMS. (TAEX and NMSU-CES)

3.5. In cooperation with the Watermaster Office, develop a plan to improve regional water rights accounting system by tying together district and river management into a combined GIS-based management system which integrates on-farm water demand with water routing and management in individual districts, and integrates water accounting and management at the district and regional levels. (TAEX)

3.6. Develop a program for utilization of real-time satellite photography for management of districts and on-farm irrigation, and incorporate into the DMS including a water demand forecasting system. (TAEX and NMSU-CES)

3.7. Develop and implement an educational program dealing with adequate plant management in water transmission systems. (TAEX)

Literature Review:

Institutional policies and practices are increasingly recognized as barriers and disincentives for the adoption of water conservation practices (Huffaker et al. 2001 and Committee on Western Water Management 1992). Project team members have conducted and published numerous studies on water conservation policies and effectiveness. These studies have found that state institutions, irrigation district and producer policies, and incentives are keys to the adoption and effectiveness of conservation programs. Fipps (2000) recently identified potential conveyance structure improvements and on-farm practices that may yield water savings for irrigation districts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Economic analyses of these measures are needed to determine the costs and net benefit. Benefit-cost analysis of these measures will be conducted as part of the irrigation district infrastructure study. In addition, farm level water allocation and optimization models may be used to assist in these analyses (e.g. Bryant, 1993; Ward and Lynch, 1996). Ellis (2000) initiated a cursory review of water conservation practices such as metering and polypipe.

Michelsen et al. (1998 and 1999) examined irrigation district objectives of conservation pricing policies and factors contributing to irrigation district adoption of conservation incentives. However, conservation incentives by themselves do not ensure less consumptive water use. Issues affecting the measurement and basin-scale evaluation of water conservation effectiveness were addressed by Huffaker et al. (1998) and McGuckin, Michelsen and Stumpf (1997) and will contribute to this study. Incentive pricing is a central element in the conservation plans of water providers and federally supplied irrigation districts (USBR, 1996 and 1997). Irrigation district conservation pricing policies have been largely ineffective because of legal and institutional barriers (Taylor, Michelsen and Huffaker, 2000). Changes in these barriers can provide significant conservation incentive. Alternative institutional policies and non-price programs have been found to be effective in municipal water conservation (Michelsen, McGuckin and Stumpf, 1999) but the ability to transfer these programs to other regions and water users has not been demonstrated. Many of the policies and practices that provide or may limit incentives for conservation are site specific and require regional or local evaluation. Other studies include a U.S.G.S. study for Colorado, New Mexico and Texas (Ward, et al., 2001). In the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, there have been a series of studies related to water planning and conservation (Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, 1998;Rio Grand Regional Water Planning Group, 2000).

One institutional barrier to conservation that is more widespread is the "use it or lose it" principle of western U.S. water law, which underlies water decisions in both New Mexico and Texas. As an example of this barrier, irrigators in both New Mexico and Texas have recently stated publicly that they would rather spill their water before they try to conserve it because they do not wish to forfeit their water rights to cities, environmental, or other non-agricultural water users without compensation. Ward and King (1998) recently published a paper in the international journal "Water Policy" identifying this problem, but much remains to be done.

Bryant, K., J.W. Mjelde, and R.D. Lacewell. 1993. An Intraseasonal Dynamic

Optimization Model to Allocate Irrigation Water between Crops. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 75(4), 1021-29.

Committee on Western Water Management, Water Science and Technology

Board.1992. Water Transfers in the West: Efficiency, Equity and the Environment . National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences.

Ellis, John R. 2000 Estimated Costs of Implementation for Irrigated Agriculture:

Rio Grande Planning Region. Final report submitted to Turner, Collie and Braden, Inc. July 2000.

Fipps, G. 2000. Potential Water Savings in Irrigated Agriculture for the Rio

Grande Planning Region. Final Report for Region M State Water Planning Group. Texas Agricultural Extension Service and Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University System. (December).

Huffaker, R., A.M. Michelsen, J. Hamilton and M. Frasier. Western Water

Allocation Issues Arising from the Hierarchy of International, Federal, State and Local Laws Regulating Water Transfers.@ Water Resources Update. (In press; forthcoming 2001)

Huffaker, R., N. Whittlesey, A.M. Michelsen, G.Taylor and T.McGuckin.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Conservation Water-Pricing Programs,@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 23(1):12-19. 1998.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. 1998. Integrated Water

Resource Plan. McAllen, Texas.

McGuckin, T., A.M. Michelsen and D.Stumpf. Aggregation Bias in Estimation of

Water Demand and Nonprice Water Conservation Measures,@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 1997, 22(2):388.

Michelsen, A.M. "Administrative, Institutional and Structural Characteristics of an

Active Water Market.@ Water Resources Bulletin, American Water Resources Association, Nov./Dec. 1994. Vol. 30(6):971-982.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin and D.M. Stumpf. Nonprice Water Conservation

as a Demand Management Tool,@ Special issue on Human Dimensions in Watershed Management, Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 35(3):593-602. June 1999.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin, R.G. Taylor and R. Huffaker. Irrigation District

Adoption of Water Conserving Rate Structures,@ Responsible Resource Use in a Global Economy, 1998 Annual Meeting, American Agricultural Economics Association, Salt Lake, Utah, August 2-5, 1998. 1-12.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin, R.G. Taylor and R. Huffaker. Strategies for Effective Implementation of Conservation Pricing Policies,@ Cross Currents in Water Policy, 1998 National Meeting, Universities Council on Water Resources, Hood River, Oregon, August 4-7, 1998.

Michelsen, A.M., R.G. Taylor, R.Huffaker and T. McGuckin. Emerging

Agricultural Water Conservation Price Incentives.@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics . 24(1):222-238. July 1999.Michelsen, A.M. and R.A. Young. 1993. Optioning Agricultural Water Rights for Urban Water Supplies During Drought. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 75(4): 1010-1020.

Minton, G.R., R. Williams, and T. Murdock. 1980. Institutional Analysis Criteria

for Water Supply Planning. Water Resources Bulletin. 16(3): 486-493.

Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. 2000. Regional Water Supply Plan

for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Area (Region M). McAllen,

Texas.

Taylor, R.G., A.M. Michelsen and R.Huffaker. Why the Price Chain for Federally

Developed Irrigation Water Doesn’t Promote Conservation. @ Choices. 3Q:13-16. 2000.

U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. 1996. Achieving Efficient

Water Management: A Guidebook for Preparing Water Conservation Plans. Prepared by Hydrosphere, Boulder, Colorado.

U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. 1997. Incentive Pricing

Handbook for Agricultural Water Districts. Prepared by Hydrosphere, Boulder, Colorado.

Ward, Frank A. and Thomas P. Lynch. 1996. Integrated River Basin

Optimization: Modeling Economic and Hydrologic Interdependence. Water Resources Bulletin, December 1996.

Ward, Frank A. and J Philip King, Reducing Institutional Barriers to Water

Conservation, Water Policy, 1 (1998), 411-420.

Ward, Frank A., Robert Young, Ronald Lacewell, J. Philip King, et al.2000.

Institutional Adjustments for Coping with Prolonged and Severe Drought in the Rio Grande Basin. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. January 2001.

Young, R.A. and S.L. Gray. 1972. The Economic Value of Water: Concepts

and Empirical Estimates. National Water Commission, Technical Report. (National Technical Information Service) Springfield, VA

 

 

Agricultural Economics

Objectives:

Identify current legal and institutional barriers that keep irrigation districts and producers from investing in and/or creating incentives for water conservation. Develop alternative institutional policies and procedure to increase irrigation water conservation and economic efficiency.

Procedures:

3.1 Evaluate existing policies, procedures, and financial and hydrological accounting practices now used by agencies that allocate water use, including irrigation districts. Develop alternative policies and procedures to encourage increases in water use efficiency and conservation and to improve water quality that are economically viable for irrigation districts. Analyze the effectiveness and feasibility of alternative economic and financial policies and procedures at the on-farm, irrigation district, and regional levels. This analysis will include a consideration of legal and institutional barriers. (TAES: Michelsen)

3.2 Identify current legal and institutional barriers that block economically viable investments made by irrigators in water conservation. Determine historical and current economic impacts of water usage within irrigation districts in the Las Cruces region. Determine the distribution and percentages of saline soils in the region. Conduct an economic analysis of irrigation costs and benefits on project farms in the area. (NMAES: Fowler, Frost, Ward, Sammis, Creel, Runyan))

 

Current Work:

Efforts to-date include work to assess current tools, and to develop new methods, to value waters in the Rio Grande. This involves collaborative research between scientists at the Texas A&M University Agricultural Research Center in El Paso and New Mexico State University. Research is also investigating how to predict the conditions under which irrigation districts may be most likely to adopt water-conserving rate structures. In addition, scientists are assisting in the development of regional water plans and water supply strategies, as part of the SB1-required water planning process.

 

Literature Review:

Institutional policies and practices are increasingly recognized as barriers and disincentives for the adoption of water conservation practices (Huffaker et al. 2001 and Committee on Western Water Management 1992). Project team members have conducted and published numerous studies on water conservation policies and effectiveness. These studies have found that state institutions, irrigation district and producer policies, and incentives are keys to the adoption and effectiveness of conservation programs. Fipps (2000) recently identified potential conveyance structure improvements and on-farm practices that may yield water savings for irrigation districts in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Economic analyses of these measures are needed to determine the costs and net benefit. Benefit-cost analysis of these measures will be conducted as part of the irrigation district infrastructure study. In addition, farm level water allocation and optimization models may be used to assist in these analyses (e.g. Bryant, 1993; Ward and Lynch, 1996). Ellis (2000) initiated a cursory review of water conservation practices such as metering and polypipe.

Michelsen et al. (1998 and 1999) examined irrigation district objectives of conservation pricing policies and factors contributing to irrigation district adoption of conservation incentives. However, conservation incentives by themselves do not ensure less consumptive water use. Issues affecting the measurement and basin-scale evaluation of water conservation effectiveness were addressed by Huffaker et al. (1998) and McGuckin, Michelsen and Stumpf (1997) and will contribute to this study. Incentive pricing is a central element in the conservation plans of water providers and federally supplied irrigation districts (USBR, 1996 and 1997). Irrigation district conservation pricing policies have been largely ineffective because of legal and institutional barriers (Taylor, Michelsen and Huffaker, 2000). Changes in these barriers can provide significant conservation incentive. Alternative institutional policies and non-price programs have been found to be effective in municipal water conservation (Michelsen, McGuckin and Stumpf, 1999) but the ability to transfer these programs to other regions and water users has not been demonstrated. Many of the policies and practices that provide or may limit incentives for conservation are site specific and require regional or local evaluation. Other studies include a U.S.G.S. study for Colorado, New Mexico and Texas (Ward, et al., 2001). In the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley, there have been a series of studies related to water planning and conservation (Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, 1998;Rio Grand Regional Water Planning Group, 2000).

One institutional barrier to conservation that is more widespread is the "use it or lose it" principle of western U.S. water law, which underlies water decisions in both New Mexico and Texas. As an example of this barrier, irrigators in both New Mexico and Texas have recently stated publicly that they would rather spill their water before they try to conserve it because they do not wish to forfeit their water rights to cities, environmental, or other non-agricultural water users without compensation. Ward and King (1998) recently published a paper in the international journal "Water Policy" identifying this problem, but much remains to be done.

Bryant, K., J.W. Mjelde, and R.D. Lacewell. 1993. An Intraseasonal Dynamic

Optimization Model to Allocate Irrigation Water between Crops. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 75(4), 1021-29.

Committee on Western Water Management, Water Science and Technology

Board.1992. Water Transfers in the West: Efficiency, Equity and the Environment. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences.

Ellis, John R. 2000 Estimated Costs of Implementation for Irrigated Agriculture:

Rio Grande Planning Region. Final report submitted to Turner, Collie and Braden, Inc. July 2000.

Fipps, G. 2000. Potential Water Savings in Irrigated Agriculture for the Rio

Grande Planning Region. Final Report for Region M State Water Planning Group. Texas Agricultural Extension Service and Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University System. (December).

Huffaker, R., A.M. Michelsen, J. Hamilton and M. Frasier. Western Water

Allocation Issues Arising from the Hierarchy of International, Federal, State and Local Laws Regulating Water Transfers.@ Water Resources Update. (In press; forthcoming 2001)

Huffaker, R., N. Whittlesey, A.M. Michelsen, G.Taylor and T.McGuckin.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Conservation Water-Pricing Programs,@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 23(1):12-19. 1998.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. 1998. Integrated Water

Resource Plan. McAllen, Texas.

McGuckin, T., A.M. Michelsen and D.Stumpf. Aggregation Bias in Estimation of

Water Demand and Nonprice Water Conservation Measures,@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 1997, 22(2):388.

Michelsen, A.M. "Administrative, Institutional and Structural Characteristics of an

Active Water Market.@ Water Resources Bulletin, American Water

Resources Association, Nov./Dec. 1994. Vol. 30(6):971-982.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin and D.M. Stumpf. Nonprice Water Conservation

as a Demand Management Tool,@ Special issue on Human Dimensions in Watershed Management, Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 35(3):593-602. June 1999.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin, R.G. Taylor and R. Huffaker. Irrigation District

Adoption of Water Conserving Rate Structures,@ Responsible Resource Use in a Global Economy, 1998 Annual Meeting, American Agricultural Economics Association, Salt Lake, Utah, August 2-5, 1998. 1-12.

Michelsen, A.M., T. McGuckin, R.G. Taylor and R. Huffaker. Strategies for

Effective Implementation of Conservation Pricing Policies,@ Cross Currents in Water Policy, 1998 National Meeting, Universities Council on Water Resources, Hood River, Oregon, August 4-7, 1998.

Michelsen, A.M., R.G. Taylor, R.Huffaker and T. McGuckin. Emerging

Agricultural Water Conservation Price Incentives.@ Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. 24(1):222-238. July 1999.

Michelsen, A.M. and R.A. Young. 1993. Optioning Agricultural Water Rights for

Urban Water Supplies During Drought. American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 75(4): 1010-1020.

Minton, G.R., R. Williams, and T. Murdock. 1980. Institutional Analysis Criteria

for Water Supply Planning. Water Resources Bulletin. 16(3): 486-493.

Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Group. 2000. Regional Water Supply Plan

for the Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Area (Region M). McAllen, Texas.

Taylor, R.G., A.M. Michelsen and R.Huffaker. Why the Price Chain for Federally

Developed Irrigation Water Doesn’t Promote Conservation. @ Choices. 3Q:13-16. 2000.

U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. 1996. Achieving Efficient

Water Management: A Guidebook for Preparing Water Conservation Plans. Prepared by Hydrosphere, Boulder, Colorado.

U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. 1997. Incentive Pricing

Handbook for Agricultural Water Districts. Prepared by Hydrosphere, Boulder, Colorado.

Ward, Frank A. and Thomas P. Lynch. 1996. Integrated River Basin

Optimization: Modeling Economic and Hydrologic Interdependence. Water Resources Bulletin, December 1996.

Ward, Frank A. and J Philip King, Reducing Institutional Barriers to Water

Conservation, Water Policy, 1 (1998), 411-420.

Ward, Frank A., Robert Young, Ronald Lacewell, J. Philip King, et al.2000.

Institutional Adjustments for Coping with Prolonged and Severe Drought in the Rio Grande Basin. Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. January 2001.

Young, R.A. and S.L. Gray. 1972. The Economic Value of Water: Concepts

and Empirical Estimates. National Water Commission, Technical Report. (National Technical Information Service) Springfield, VA

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