Understanding Agricultural Water Use and Conservation

Johnson, Evan (Photographer). (2018). A center-pivot sprinkler system at sunset in West Texas irrigates a cotton field. [photograph].

Water in Texas 

Water is undoubtedly one of the most important resources in Texas. The state of Texas has attempted to solve water shortages for over fifty years with many different water plans. Though many Texans know water preservation is critical, the methods to conserve water are hotly debated. However, farmers cannot produce the food and fiber you need to eat and wear without access to sufficient water.

According to a report by the Texas Water Resources Institute, annual estimated water use in Texas totaled 16.2 million acre-feet in 2009, with about 57 percent used for agricultural irrigation. With a large amount of water being used in agriculture, it is important to understand individual’s attitudes on irrigation and then work to spread accurate information. It is widely believed policy measures that support water saving irrigation methods will make water more available for cities and environmental issues; however, little has been done to test these ideas.

A center-pivot sprinkler system at sunset in West Texas irrigates a cotton field. Photo Credit: Evan Johnson

Water Conservation

As standards of living continue to increase, water consumption also rises and available water diminishes. As a society, it is important to understand that we must also take responsibility and action in conserving water. In addition to farmers, many cities and power plants must think about conservation in industrial uses.

Water planners hope the drought of 2011 is enough initiative to make changes in the lack of major investment in water infrastructure. The public’s support, your support, is imperative to creating proposals, and getting constituents involved in resolving water shortages while allowing farmers to have access to the water they need.

Aspects including water supply regulations, changes in climate, and increased population growth have intensified the search for methods to help conserve water in irrigated agriculture, as agriculture is the world’s largest user of water. Texas requires an effective water plan for reasons like recent droughts and predictions that the number of people living in the state in 2060 would reach 46 million.

Bones and debris rest among dead grass in a field. Photo Credit: Evan Johnson

What You Can Do

Though the drought has served as the push companies needed to innovate, lawmakers’ involvement is essential in obtaining funds and encouraging conservation. However, there are many issues in water resource development and regulation in Texas, and pressure for progress is growing.

Society is beginning to understand that we also must take responsibility and action in conserving water. So, it is extremely important to communicate information on water use and preservation to consumers that may be uninformed. Educating the consumers will hopefully result in personal water conservation and an interest in Texas water policy and legislation.

Pump rig
Johnson, Evan (Photographer). (2017). A pump rig replaces a submersible well. [photograph].

Why Water is Important for Agriculture

According to the United Nations, the world population is anticipated to grow from 8.3 billion in 2030 and to 9.1 billion in 2050. By 2030, food demand is predicted to increase by 50 percent, and 70 percent by 2050.

Every living creature needs water and food to survive and thrive. Water is necessary to producing food. A farmer’s role is to produce food while actively working to preserve water. The public’s role is to become educated and involved in pressuring lawmakers to work toward a solution that will allow farmers to have access to plenty of water while planning for future water security.

So today, educate yourself about agricultural water use then share why it is so important for farmers to not be cut off from this critical resource with someone who might not know.

To learn more about water use in Texas and how you can get involved, visit the below links: