This paper describes the development of a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based methodology to estimate and map the potential financial benefits of irrigation and the potential financial impacts of restrictions on abstraction for sprinkler irrigation. The framework within which the Environment Agency will use the methodology is presented.All water abstractions in England and Wales are licensed and controlled by the Environment Agency. The Water Resources Act (1991) allows the Environment Agency to impose restrictions on abstraction for sprinkler irrigation in order to avoid or reduce adverse environmental impact. Imposing total or partial restrictions on irrigation can have significant financial consequences for farm production and farm incomes. The Environment Act (1995) placed a duty on the Environment Agency to take account of the likely costs and benefits that may follow from its actions. However, the value of water for irrigation varies spatially. GIS techniques enable this variability to be analysed.The analysis is applied to the Environment Agency Anglian Region. The results confirm that the benefits of irrigation are significant, and that financial impacts of restrictions on abstraction can be very high. Maps are presented showing the potential benefits of irrigation (per area and per unit volume of water) and the costs of restrictions at various times. Coping strategies, which farmers can adopt to mitigate the impacts, are discussed. Despite a number of limitations, the methodology appears to work well, particularly in intensively irrigated areas.
Journal of Environmental Management 01/2000; DOI:10.1006/jema.1999.0307 · 3.19 Impact Factor