Author(s): Mehta, V.K., V.R. Haden, B.A. Joyce, D.R. Purkey, L.E. Jackson

Year: 2013

In: Agricultural Water Management 117, 70–82; available online 10 December 2012

DOI: 10.1016/j.agwat.2012.10.021

Type: Journal article



Link to SEI authors:

Irrigation demand and supply, given projections of climate and land-use change, in Yolo County, California

This article assesses the potential effects of climate change and adaptive management on irrigation water supply in the Cache Creek watershed in California.

The authors built a model using the Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) system, and calibrated it using historical data (1971–2000) on streamflow, irrigation deliveries, and reservoir operations.

They examined three adaptation scenarios to 2099: (1) changes in cropping patterns based on econometric forecasts, (2) a shift toward a more diversified and water-efficient cropping patterns, and (3) a combination of irrigation technology improvements and changes in cropping patterns.

Results show irrigation demand increasing by 26% and 32% under B1 and A2 baseline climate scenarios respectively in the latter part of the century. Irrigation water supply from upstream reservoir releases is less vulnerable, because of increased spring precipitation upstream. However, legal limits on reservoir releases mean that increased demand can only be met by increasing groundwater extraction.

Increases in demand from climate change alone exceed applied water reductions from changing cropping patterns by an order of magnitude. Maximum applied water savings occur by combining a diversified water-efficient cropping pattern with irrigation technology improvements, which decreases demand to levels 12% below the historical mean, thereby also reducing groundwater pumping.

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