Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017ID213B


Institute: Idaho
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $30,000

Principal Investigators: Jairo Hernandez

Abstract: In 2010, irrigation in Idaho accounted for 81% of water withdrawn, which is about 2.5 times the average in the United States. In total, Idaho agricultural producers withdrew 14,000 million gallons in 2010 for irrigation purposes, surpassed only by California (Maupin et al., 2014). Given the dependence of Idaho food production on water supply, there is a need to better understand how population growth affects the agricultural sustainability. Globally, farm loss due to development has been associated with reduction in the potential supply of food (OECD, 2009), as development takes over farmland necessary for local, state, and national food production. The goals of this research are to assess the difference between the amount of water that is used in farmland and urbanized areas in a region of intensive irrigation water use and to create a conceptual model to identify its implications. For this purpose, the last 50 years of land use change will be studied in the Treasure Valley of Idaho and the implications of this change will be evaluated. The proposed study will define a baseline and identify the implications of water quantity change per area of use. Results from this study will answer the question of how extensive is the transition zone from farmland to urban land and future potential consequences of this change. Specifically, a quantification of water demand by use and its change over time will be performed under this grant. A study on the potential use of the amount of water that is involved in this difference will be performed. Water users that hold a right should keep their water right and might have the opportunity to use water in a different way after land use change, if we find ways to demonstrate benefit. This study will facilitate water management and decision-making, and will help in avoiding water conflicts. The specific objectives of this research are: (1) To determine the quantity of water that is used in the transition fringe of farm areas and urbanized areas and provide analysis and conclusions, (2) To create a conceptual model to help water right holders find alternatives that would demonstrate a beneficial use of water under new water use. Outreach activities will be performed and will include a presentation to inform management agencies and the general public about findings from this effort. In addition, K-12 students will be introduced to the topic during Boise State University e-day and e-camp activities.