Competition of Energy for Agricultural Water Use

by A. Bruce Bishop, (M.ASCE), Executive Dir.; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; and Prof., Civ. and Environmental Engrg., Utah State Univ., Logan, Utah,
Rangesan Narayanan, Research Asst. Prof.; Utah Water Research Lab., Utah State Univ., Logan, Utah,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 3, Pg. 317-336

Document Type: Journal Paper


As water needs for energy development increase, the possibility of competition for water between energy and other uses will also intensify. The Upper Colorado River Basin with its vast energy resources and limited water supplies is a region that epitomizes the potential for such water use conflicts. The major pressure for shifting water to energy uses is being felt by the agriculture sector. To assess the likely areas of competition and the magnitude of possible water transfers, a linear programming model is used to identify water transfers that can be made at the least social cost under alternative physical, legal, and institutional restrictions. The reduction in agricultural output due to possible water transfers to energy is estimated for projected levels of energy development. The effect of such transfers on proposed irrigation projects in various counties is assessed. Results of the analysis indicate the regions where there would be competition and water transfers, the amounts of water involved, the value of water lost to agriculture, and the resulting average annual streamflows.

Subject Headings: Water resources | Water pressure | Hydro power | Irrigation water | Water use | Hydrologic models | Social factors | Rivers and streams | Colorado River

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