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Improving Cost Effectiveness of Irrigation Zoning for Salinity Mitigation by Introducing Offsets

Spencer, Thomas, Ancev, Tihomir, Connor, Jeff
Water resources management 2009 v.23 no.10 pp. 2085-2100
agricultural industry, business enterprises, cost effectiveness, irrigation, issues and policy, salinity, zoning
Irrigation induced salinity is adversely affecting the agricultural industry and the environment in many countries around the world. Spatial location of irrigation enterprises has been identified as one important factor that needs to be taken into account by policies aimed at mitigating salinity. In particular, policies aimed at restricting the location of irrigation enterprises have been recently proposed to address the irrigation induced salinity problem. This article compares and contrasts the costs of two versions of such a policy: a standalone irrigation zoning policy, where new irrigation enterprises are only allowed to locate in low salinity impact zones; and a salinity offsetting policy, where new irrigation enterprises can locate in high salinity impact zones, provided that they offset their salinity impact elsewhere. A key finding is that the offsetting policy is both less costly and more effective in reducing salinity than a standalone irrigation zoning policy. This is due to the presence of incentives for choosing “optimal” location of irrigation enterprises when the costs of salinity offsets are taken into account.