Volume 26, Issue 3

September 2010

Original Articles

Financing irrigation water management and infrastructure: A review

Frank A. Ward

Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, New Mexico State University

Email: fward@nmsu.edu


Many of the world’s irrigated regions face the problem of aging infrastructure and declining revenues to maintain and repair irrigation structures. Policy debates over climate change, population growth, food security, and impacts of irrigation on ecological assets compound the problem, raising the urgency to invest in irrigation infrastructure. Meanwhile, a global call for full-cost recovery for water infrastructure investments increases the need to identify the economic value of sustaining irrigation infrastructure. Despite the growing debates, little comprehensive research has been conducted summarizing factors affecting irrigation investments or policy options available for sustaining irrigation infrastructure. This paper reviews research on factors affecting the level and value of irrigation infrastructure investments. It also reviews research on policy instruments for sustaining irrigation infrastructure, considering both market and institutional approaches. Several market approaches have been found to have the potential to influence the economic attractiveness of investments in irrigation infrastructure. These include infrastructure subsidies, clearing titles to water rights, marginal cost pricing, and non-volumetric pricing. Institutional approaches described include regulatory measures, transboundary agreements, and water user associations. Results may contribute to current debates in various regional, national, and international forums on whether and how water should be priced for agricultural use.

Pages: 321-349


Issues and options relating to sustainable management of irrigation water in Japan: A conceptual discussion

Mikitaro Shobayashia, Yukio Kinoshitab and Mari Takedac

aDepartment of Intercultural Communication, Gakushuin Women’s College, Tokyo, Japan;  bFaculty of Agriculture, Iwate University, Morioka, Iwate, Japan Mari Takeda, Graduate School of Frontier Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; cGraduate School of Frontier Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Contact: Mikitaro Shobayashi | Email: mikitaro.shobayashi@gakushuin.ac.jp


Improving the efficiency of paddy irrigation, the dominant water consumer, is an important policy issue for the sustainable management of water resources in Japan. This needs to be consistent with the agricultural support policy, considering that Japan is now facing a drastic change in its agricultural policy environment. A key question is whether the irrigation sector policy developed for constructing new facilities under the agricultural price support regime could address issues associated with the new agricultural policy environment. This paper tries to discuss these aspects conceptually and proposes the general direction policy reform in the irrigation sector should take.

Pages: 351-364


Assessment of productive efficiency in irrigated areas of Andalusia

Noelina Rodríguez-Ferrero, Manuel Salas-Velasco and María Teresa Sánchez-Martí

University of Granada, Department of Applied Economics, Granada, Spain

Contact: Noelina Rodríguez-Ferrero | Email: nrferrer@ugr.es


Expansionist policies in irrigation in Andalusia have led to an intensive use of water, which has depleted rivers and aquifers and led to high added costs in terms of hidden subsidies for irrigation farming. Water scarcity has become an increasing social and economic worry for those responsible for regulating water policies and has created problems among users, especially when it is an important factor for production purposes. This empirical study analyses the differences that exist in terms of economic efficiency in the 156 irrigation areas of Andalusia. To achieve rational management of irrigation water it is essential to consider economic efficiency and carry out comparative studies to identify the causes that contribute to differences in terms of efficiency. This paper describes the conclusions of a study into economic rationality in the use of such a scarce resource as water.

Pages: 365-379


Attitudes and policy responses to Australian farm dam safety threats: Comparative lessons for water resources managers

John D. Pisaniello

Supreme Court of South Australia and University of South Australia

Email: John.Pisaniello@unisa.edu.au


The safety of medium- and large-scale dams is addressed in many countries, but limited attention is paid to problems associated with smaller farm dams, particularly potential cumulative threats posed in larger catchments. Farmers in Australia often overlook the common law obligation to review and design dams in line with current standards. The result is downstream communities, property and environment placed at risk. This paper demonstrates the significance of this problem with case studies undertaken in policy-absent South Australia, policy-driven Victoria and policy-strong New South Wales, including empirical evidence on attitudes and responses of landholders and key policy actors. This demonstrates need for supervision of small dams. Tasmania is included as a case study as it represents a policy-model state on how this can be best achieved in line with international best-practice. The four cases provide useful comparative lessons. Policy guidelines applicable to any jurisdiction are included; their application is illustrated with the case studies. The paper considers the policy implications of these lessons for Australia in particular and the world in general.

Pages: 381-402


Policy insights on user charges from a rural water supply project: A counter-intuitive view from South India

Vibhu Nayara and A.J. Jamesb

aTamil Nadu Integrated Agricultural Modernization and Water Resources Management Project, Chennai, India; bPragmatix Research & Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd, Gurgaon, India

Contact: Vibhu Nayar | Email: vibhunayar@gmail.com


When government engineers work closely with rural communities to raise awareness of water as a scarce resource, greater community ownership results and water supply service delivery and user charge collections improve. This runs counter to the conventional hypothesis that (higher) user charges lead to more finances and hence, improved service delivery. More sustainable service delivery results when engineers adopt a non-prescriptive and flexible approach and work with communities—rather than impose targets of 100% collection of operation and maintenance costs from the outset, as is done widely. The key is attitudinal change, driven in this case by democratization of governance undertaken along with engineers in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Pages: 403-421


Weakening of the Asian summer monsoon and its impact on the precipitation pattern in China

Yihui Ding, Yanju Liu, Ying Sun and Yafang Song

National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, Peoples Republic of China

Contact: Ding Yihui | Email: dingyh@cma.gov.cn


The present paper provides a scientific assessment of the inter-decadal variability of the Asian summer monsoon and its significant effect on precipitation patterns in China. The paper consists of four parts. The first part shows the observed inter-decadal weakening of the Asian summer monsoon since the end of 1970s. The second part describes the impact of the weakening Asian summer monsoon on precipitation in China, which caused the major monsoon rainbelt to shift southward from North China to South China over about 30 years, with a 60-80 oscillation dominating. The third part projects the future change of the Asian summer monsoon in the warmer climate by using IPCC AR4 climate models. It has been found that major monsoon rainfall belts in East Asia will move northward in the 2040s, with summer precipitation in North China increasing considerably and stably. Finally, in the fourth part, the implication of the adaptation to the above climate change and related water management will be discussed including the water transport engineering project from the Yangtze River to the Yellow River and North China.

Pages: 423-439


Measuring water affordability: A proposal for urban centres in developed countries

María de los Ángeles García-Valiñasa, Roberto Martínez-Espiñeirab and Francisco González-Gómezc

aToulouse School of Economics, Laboratory of Natural Resource Economics (LERNA-INRA), France; bDepartment of Economics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada; cDepartment of Applied Economics, University of Granada, Spain

Contact: Francisco González-Gómez | Email: fcojose@ugr.es


Although water, at least for basic needs, should be accessible to everyone, many families have trouble paying their water bill. Assessments of water affordability inform the design of water tariffs aimed at ensuring universal access to water. In order to carry out such assessments, managers must have instruments available that accurately reflect the state of water affordability. In this article, a critique is presented of one of the indicators traditionally used to measure water affordability and a proposal of an alternative way of measuring water affordability is put forward. The empirical analysis is applied to data from 301 communities in southern Spain.

Pages: 441-458


Water management in San Luis Potosí metropolitan area, Mexico

Sandra Martineza, Oscar Escolerob and Stefanie Kralischa

aPosgrado en Ciencias de la Tierra, Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; bDepartamento Geología Regional, Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Contact: Sandra Martinez | Email: seddam2002@yahoo.com.mx


The San Luis Potosí Metropolitan Zone, one of the key urban centres of Mexico’s semi-arid central region, has experienced remarkable socio-economic development in recent decades, but it confronts inadequate water services in a context of scarcity, inefficient management, and lack of planning, investment and technology. Strategies currently being undertaken include efforts to improve the efficiency of wells, reduce leakage, sanitize the area, and develop alternative water supplies from neighbouring catchments. The challenge today is to move from considerations that focus mainly on supply management, to an approach based on integrated water resources management. This represents an immense task, but innovative water technologies, management systems and institutional arrangements are necessary in order to meet the multiple objectives of equity, environmental integrity and economic efficiency.

Pages: 459-475


Endocrine disruptors and water quality: A state-of-the-art review

Patricia Burkhardt-Holm

Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Email: Patricia.Holm@unibas.ch


Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are compounds which interfere with the hormone system and may adversely affect the health and reproduction of man and animals. These compounds comprise heavy metals and organic chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, plasticizers, surfactants, pharmaceuticals, natural and synthetic estrogens as well as phyto- and mycoestrogens. In this review, an overview of most frequently asked questions is presented. These questions are: What are the sources of endocrine disruptors we find in the environment? What concentrations do we have in our wastewater? What happens in the wastewater treatment plant? Do we have EDs in other water bodies also? Is drinking water at risk? Why is it so difficult to prove whether EDs are harmful? Could sperm decline and fertility disturbance in man be due to EDs? Could breast cancer be due to exposure to EDs? What are alterations in wildlife and fish? What can be done?

Pages: 477-493


Embracing Uncertainty to Improve Water Management, with Examples from Saven River Basins

Global Change: Impacts on Water and Food Security
Edited by Claudia Ringler, Asit K. Biswas and Sarah A. Cline, Berlin, Springer, 2010

Regional Workshop on Water Saving Irrigation Practices in Rice-based Canal Systems
Bangkok, Thailand, 8-9 Octubre 2009