JWARP  Vol.9 No.3 , February 2017
Extending the Economic Life of the Ogallala Aquifer with Water Conservation Policies in the Texas Panhandle
Abstract: The continued decline in the availability of water from the Ogallala Aquifer in the Texas Panhandle has led to an increased interest in conservation policies designed to extend the life of the aquifer and sustain rural economies. Four counties were chosen for evaluation. This study evaluates the effectiveness of five policies in terms of changes in the saturated thickness, crop mix, water use per acre, and the net present value of farm profits over a 60-year planning horizon. The dynamic optimization models were developed using GAMS for the baseline as well as one for all five of the policy alternatives for each county. Results indicate that the policy scenarios of biotechnology adoption and a water use restriction will conserve the most water among the policies analyzed. In terms of economic returns, the biotechnology adoption policy by far provides the greatest benefit to producers due to yield increases that are estimated with current annual growth rates in new seed varieties. The water use restriction policy, on the other hand, has the lowest net present value of returns, indicating that conservation is accompanied with significant costs to producers. The irrigation adoption technology scenario is the next best policy in terms of net present value of returns (following biotechnology); however, it ranks last in terms of reducing aquifer depletion. It is important to note that while the models do not perfectly predict the factors being evaluated, it is the basis for comparison between the policy scenarios which are important. These comparisons will aid policy makers in determining the most effective strategy to conserve water while simultaneously considering the economic costs to producers. In addition, the results of this study can be applied to other areas facing similar conditions, either currently or in the future, throughout the Texas Panhandle.
Cite this paper: Almas, L. , Guerrero, B. , Lust, D. , Fatima, H. , Tewari, R. and Taylor, R. (2017) Extending the Economic Life of the Ogallala Aquifer with Water Conservation Policies in the Texas Panhandle. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 9, 255-270. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2017.93017.

[1]   Stewart, B. (2003) Aquifers, Ogallala. In: Stewart, B.A. and Howell, T., Eds., Encyclopedia of Water Science, Marcel Dekker, New York, 43-44.

[2]   Jensen, R. (2004) Ogallala Aquifer: Using Improved Irrigation Technology and Water Conservation to Meet Future Needs. Texas Water Resource Institute.

[3]   Postel, S. (1998) Water for Food Production: Will There Be Enough in 2005. BioScience, 48, 629-637.

[4]   Ryder, P.D. (1996) Geological Survey-Ground Water Atlas of the United States, Oklahoma, and Texas.

[5]   McMahon, P., Dennehy, K., Bruce, B., Bohlke, J., Michel, R., Gurdak, J. and Hurlbut, D. (2006) Storage and Transit Time of Chemicals in Thick Unsaturated Zones under Rangeland and Irrigated Cropland, High Plains, United States. Water Resources Research, 42, W03413.

[6]   Gurdak, J. and Roe, C. (2009) Recharge Rates and Chemistry Beneath Playas of the High Plains Aquifer—A Literature Review and Synthesis. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1333, 39 p.

[7]   Bilby, T., Bruno, R., Lager, K. and Jordan, E. (2010) Panhandle Water Use: Dairy and Other Commodities. Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

[8]   Howell, T. (2001) Enhancing Water Use Efficiency in Irrigated Agriculture. Agronomy Journal, 93, 281-289.

[9]   Pfeiffer, L. and Lin, C. (2010) Does Efficient Irrigation Technology Lead to Reduced Groundwater Extraction? Empirical Evidence. Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting, Denver, 25-27 July 2010, 1-40.

[10]   Ward, F. and Pulido-Velazquez, M. (2008) Water Conservation in Irrigation Can Increase Water Use. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 105, 18215-18220.

[11]   NASS (National Agricultural Statistical Service) (2014) Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey (2013). 2012 Census of Agriculture.

[12]   Texas Water Development Board (2015) Groundwater Conservation Districts.

[13]   Texas Legislature (2015) Texas Senate Bills 1.

[14]   Texas Legislature (2015) Texas Senate Bills 2.

[15]   Texas Legislature (2002) Texas Joint Committee on Water Resources Report to the 78th Legislature.

[16]   Department of Water, Perth, Australia (2009) Policy on Water Conservation/Efficiency Plans: Achieving Water Use Efficiency Gains through Water Licensing. Operational Policy No. 1.02.

[17]   ARMCANZ (Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand) (1996) Allocation and Use of Groundwater: A National Framework for Improved Groundwater Management in Australia. Occasional Paper No 2. Commonwealth of Australia.

[18]   NGC (National Groundwater Committee) (2004) Definition and Approach to Sustainable Groundwater Yield. Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

[19]   Texas Legislature (2015) Texas Senate Bills 3.

[20]   Texas Legislature (2015) Texas Senate Bills 4.

[21]   Texas Legislature (2015) Texas Senate Bills 1, 2, 3, 4.

[22]   Brooke, A., Kendrick, D., Meerdus, A., Raman, R. and Rosenthal, R.E. (2007) GAMS: A User’s Guide. GAMS Development Corporation, Washington DC.

[23]   Texas Water Development Board (2001) Survey of Irrigation in Texas, Austin, Texas: TWDB Report 347.

[24]   Panhandle Water Planning Group (2006) 2006 Regional Plan. Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Amarillo.

[25]   Panhandle Water Planning Group (2011) 2011 Adopted Plan. Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Amarillo.

[26]   Feng, Y. and Segarra, E. (1992) Forecasting the Use of Irrigation Systems with Transition Probabilities in Texas. Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 5, 59-66.

[27]   Terell, B., Johnson, P. and Segarra, E. (2002) Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer: Economic Impacts on the Texas High Plains. Water Policy, 4, 33-46.

[28]   Wheeler-Cook, E., Sagarra, E., Johnson, P., Johnson, J. and Willis, D. (2008) Water Conservation Policy Evaluation: The Case of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer. Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 21, 87-100.

[29]   Das, B., Willis, D. and Johnson, J. (2010) Effectiveness of Two Water Conservation Policies: An Integrated Modeling Approach. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 42, 695-710.

[30]   Guerrero, B., Amosson, S. and Almas, L. (2008) Integrating Stakeholder Input into Water Policy and Development. Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 40, 465-471.

[31]   Fuglie, K., MacDonald, J. and Ball, E. (2007) Productivity Growth in U.S. Agriculture. Economic Brief Number 9, USDA ERS, Washington DC.