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Effect Of Water Scarcity And Modernisation On The Performance Of Irrigation Districts In South-eastern Spain

Marcela Soto-García, Victoriano Martínez-Alvarez, P. A. García-Bastida, Francisco Romero Alcón, Bernardo Martin-Gorriz
Published 2013 · Economics

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The present study analyses the performance dynamic in irrigation districts management subjected to water scarcity and modernisation over time. The selected area was Campo de Cartagena Irrigation District, which covers 41,065ha in the Segura Basin (Spain), one of the most water stressed regions in Europe. A set of performance indicators was selected to characterise the effect of specific processes (modernisation) or circumstances (water scarcity) in the service or behaviour of the irrigation district. The results clearly show that water supply restrictions contributed to the important performance changes observed over time to a much greater extent than the modernisation process did. Fluctuations in water availability resulted in high variations in performance indicators. This underlines the fact that, in water stressed areas, their value must be considered time specific and that the characterisations of irrigation districts management require good knowledge of the system’s behaviour over long time periods. The modernisation in the selected area was characterised so as to not involve the pressurisation of distribution networks, resulting in quite different effects than those reported for modernisations involving pressurisation: significant increases in energy use efficiency, yet with only a slight improvement in water use efficiency. Finally, the strategies followed by farmers under water supply constraints were also surveyed and discussed for the most important crop groups in the area.
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