Submitted to: National Association of Irrigation Engineers Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/16/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Improving the operation of large open-channel agricultural water delivery systems requires research and development efforts. Research institutions need to collaborate with irrigation districts to find practical solutions to their problems and, by this means, help them improve their water delivery service. In many cases, the participation of water users and other stakeholders in the research and development effort is also necessary. This paper discusses the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory's experiences with research and development projects in collaboration with irrigation districts. For the examples presented, the collaboration produced knowledge that aided the irrigation organizations in their improvement efforts. The Laboratory's research programs have benefitted greatly as well through a better understanding of delivery system operation and their impact on farm irrigation management. This understanding has implications for technology development and transfer and for defining future research objectives. This information will be useful to irrigation districts, other water delivery organizations, and any institution interested in promoting improved water resource management practices.
Technical Abstract: A flexible, accurate, and reliable irrigation delivery service is needed to facilitate on-farm irrigation. Consequently, irrigation delivery organizations need to improve the quality of their service if the current service does not meet their customers' needs. Service improvement is challenging because it requires changes in infrastructure, in the delivery organization's structure, in delivery and operational rules, and even in attitudes among water providers and users. This means that the improving the delivery service requires research and development efforts with the collaboration of irrigation and research organizations. Collaboration with water users and other stakeholders in the agricultural system also is necessary to estimate the potential costs and benefits of alternative levels of service. This paper discuses two research and development projects carried out by the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory with irrigation delivery organizations. One project was a demonstration of an organizational- development based process to improve the sustainability of an entire irrigated agricultural system. In this case, the water delivery service was analyzed along with other components that influence the agricultural system's performance. The second experience addresses the development of automated canal control technology. These experiences have resulted in practical benefits to the irrigation organizations and at the same time have helped refine the Laboratory's research programs.