Groundwater economics: An object-oriented foundation for integrated studies of irrigated agricultural systems

David R. Steward, Jeffrey M Peterson, Xiaoying Yang, Tom Bulatewicz, Mauricio Herrera-Rodriguez, Dazhi Mao, Nathan Hendricks

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An integrated foundation is presented to study the impacts of external forcings on irrigated agricultural systems. Individually, models are presented that simulate groundwater hydrogeology and econometric farm level crop choices and irrigated water use. The natural association between groundwater wells and agricultural parcels is employed to couple these models using geographic information science technology and open modeling interface protocols. This approach is used to study the collective action problem of the common pool. Three different policies (existing, regulation, and incentive based) are studied in the semiarid grasslands overlying the Ogallala Aquifer in the central United States. Results show that while regulation using the prior appropriation doctrine and incentives using a water buy-back program may each achieve the same level of water savings across the study region, each policy has a different impact on spatial patterns of groundwater declines and farm level economic activity. This represents the first time that groundwater and econometric models of irrigated agriculture have been integrated at the well-parcel level and provides methods for scientific investigc tion of this coupled natural-human system. Results are useful for science to inform decision making and public policy debate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW05430
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

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