Modern irrigation's contribution is critical to world water conservation, says irrigation expert

With less than 4/10th of one percent of the world's fresh water usable for humans, irrigation's contribution to water conservation is critical, says Irrigation Association Executive Director, Tom Kimmell.

FALLS CHURCH, Va., March 26, 2001 — With less than 4/10th of one percent of the world's fresh water usable for humans, modern irrigation's contribution to water conservation is becoming even more critical, says Irrigation Association Executive Director, Tom Kimmell.

Millions of acres of crops help feed and clothe us, generate the oxygen for us to breathe, conserve our soils, and trap rainfall to recharge our aquifers. Drought, disease and pests regularly threaten this huge task. Properly managed irrigation technology uses less water protecting the environment and improving water quality.

"In the United States alone agriculture uses 79.6% of the fresh water, and we have the technology to greatly reduce that figure," says Kimmell. "The farmer however, is caught between the desire to conserve and the cost to do so."

The Irrigation Association's preeminent commitment is to preserve our precious and finite water resources. Advanced irrigation technology is based upon sustainability — the process of protecting the soil and water required to grow plants for years to come.

Efficient irrigation protects the environment in many ways:

* Reduces non-point source water pollution by eliminating runoff

* Keeps groundwater clean, reducing percolation of fertilizers and

chemicals into groundwater supplies

* Allows precise application of nutrients

* Prevents erosion of top soil

* Protects the soil and water from destructive salt buildup

"Water savings at the farm level can help offset the effect of rising water costs and restricted water supplies on producer income," according to Noel Gollehon of the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). Irrigation systems can be targeted to meet particular needs, a system can distribute fertilizer and herbicides in just the amount necessary, limiting waste and pollution.

According to the United States Geological Services, 99.7 percent of the earth's water is in the oceans and unusable by humans. Of the remaining .3 percent, 77 percent is locked up in icecaps, glaciers and saline inland seas, 22 percent is ground water and less than 4/10th of one percent is in our rivers, where most of our water is extracted.

Water conservation by agriculture will reduce the stresses on the whole U.S. water supply system.

For information contact: The Irrigation Association, 6540 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, VA 22042, or visit http://www.irrigation.org .

SOURCE Irrigation Association

More in Drinking Water
Stormwater Management Guide
Sponsored
Stormwater Management Guide