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Harmonising consumptive use and the environment through a Regional Irrigation Business Approach

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Hector M. Malano, Shahbaz Khan, Brian Davidson
Hector graduated in Agricultural Engineering in 1973. In 1981 he was awarded a Masters degree in Irrigation and Drainage Engineering from Utah State University (USA) for research carried out into the behaviour of infiltration under surge flow hydraulics.

Keyword(s): irrigation, environment, water competition, environmental services
Article:
AbstractThe needs of irrigated agriculture and environmental sustainability have often been seen as two entirely competitive endeavours. However, with demand for food supply steadily increasing in future as a result of population growth, and greater society emphasis in maintaining environmental quality of surface and groundwater supplies, it is imperative that a new approach to meeting both demands is implemented. System harmonisation is a business driven approach that seeks to identify opportunities for irrigators to become an integral part of an environmental services industry aimed at maximising productivity and environmental outcomes. This approach is designed to integrate the multifunctional nature of surface and groundwater systems to meet consumptive and environmental demands. The system harmonisation framework consists of two main domains: (a) a research domain designed to characterise and analyse the catchment water cycle and determine the key options for interventions leading to improved productivity and environmental outcomes, the environmental and economic evaluation of economic and environmental impacts of these options and, the social, institutional and social aspects of the proposed interventions, and (b) A regional business framework termed Regional Irrigation Business Partnerships (RIBP) designed to implement the proposed changes. The system harmonisation framework was implemented in three RIBPs in diverse locations in Australia. The three RIBP sites which represent a wide range of hydrological, geological and agricultural conditions are the Coleambally Irrigation Area (NSW), the South Creek Catchment (Western Sydney), and the McIntyre-Brook system (Queensland). The analysis focuses primarily on the quantification of the water and solutes components of the water cycle together with the proposed interventions in each site. The economic and environmental costs and benefits of each intervention are also presented. An analysis of the main social and institutional aspects of the RIBPs will also be included together with the business models proposed to implement each intervention.
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