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Challenges of Irrigation Water Supply in Croplands of Arid Regions and their Environmental Consequences – A Case Study in the Dez and Moghan Command Areas of Iran

Authors: Lobat Taghavi, Najaf Hedayat


Renewable water resources are crucial production variables in arid and semi-arid regions where intensive agriculture is practiced to meet ever-increasing demand for food and fiber. This is crucial for the Dez and Moghan command areas where water delivery problems and adverse environmental issues are widespread. This paper aims to identify major problems areas using on-farm surveys of 200 farmers, agricultural extensionists and water suppliers which was complemented by secondary data and field observations during 2010- 2011 cultivating season. The SPSS package was used to analyze and synthesis data. Results indicated inappropriate canal operations in both schemes, though there was no unanimity about the underlying causes. Inequitable and inflexible distribution was found to be rooted in deficient hydraulic structures particularly in the main and secondary canals. The inadequacy and inflexibility of water scheduling regime was the underlying causes of recurring pest and disease spread which often led to the decline of crop yield and quality, although these were not disputed, the water suppliers were not prepared to link with the deficiencies in the operation of the main and secondary canals. They rather attributed these to the prevailing salinity; alkalinity, water table fluctuations and leaching of the valuable agro-chemical inputs from the plants- route zone with farreaching consequences. Examples of these include the pollution of ground and surface resources due to over-irrigation at the farm level which falls under the growers- own responsibility. Poor irrigation efficiency and adverse environmental problems were attributed to deficient and outdated farming practices that were in turn rooted in poor extension programs and irrational water charges.

Keywords: Environmental Impact, Conflicts, inequity, water delivery, inflexibility, Dez and Moghan

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