Value of Water
method. improved Cost Curve concept and value of water estimation
partners. Wageningen University, Grantham Institute LSE, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council
A number of water conservation measures in agriculture have been proposed to produce more food with less water. However, the extent to which the benefits - the value of additional crop production supported by water savings - compensate the costs of these measures is poorly quantified. A complicating factor is that losses from inefficient use of water upstream are often reused downstream so that benefits of water conservation measures tend to be overstated. Uncharted Waters Research developed a method to use detailed model simulations to trace the impact of various measures on all irrigation water fluxes, including these losses, and crop production and its value. We then compared the cost of water conservation with the demand for water in three major river basins; the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra. We show that only just over 20% of potential water savings would be realised if financial feasibility is taken into account; the majority of water conservation measures are simply too costly. Despite these limited water savings and the modest expansion of irrigation they would allow, their implementation would improve farm profits in a region where farming profitability is low.