Agricultural Water Conservation Best Management Practices: Overview
Agriculture has always been one of the mainstays of the Texas economy. It is, in fact, the second largest industry in the state, generating about $85 billion a year. Along with agriculture’s dedicated producers and Texas’ diverse climate, one of the state’s most valuable resources fuels this impressive productivity: water. Irrigated agriculture is Texas’ single greatest water consumer and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. It currently uses about 9 million acre-feet annually on over 6 million acres. Most of that water, 73 percent, is groundwater. Because Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, one of the challenges it faces is how to provide a dependable water supply to support this growing population and economy. By 2060, the population of Texas is projected to more than double, increasing from 23 million to about 46 million. The demand for water in that same period, however, is expected to increase more modestly, from the current 17 million to 21.7 million acrefeet per year. One of the reasons water demand is not increasing at the same rate as the population is the expanding role of water conservation. For the 2007 State Water Plan, the regional water planning groups recommended conservation strategies to help slow the pace of increasing water demand in their regions. By 2060, agricultural water conservation strategies are projected to result in a savings of 1.4 million acre-feet of water annually, a significant portion of the state’s water supply.