Published in Proceedings of 2014 USCID Newsletter, January 1, 2014.
There are some old lessons that continue to repeat themselves throughout the history of irrigation. For example, it has become a common understanding that accumulated salinity from irrigation spelled the doom of some ancient civilizations in the Middle East. Despite this ancient knowledge, today we still have numerous irrigated basins in which there is no outlet for high-salinity drainage flows.
Likewise, groundwater is something that traditionally has not been well understood, and is often treated as an ever-present back-up plan for irrigation. The “water rights” laws in the western US and elsewhere almost exclusively formalized rules about and concentrated on surface water flows, while simultaneously ignoring the problem of groundwater depletion. One could say that many of today’s groundwater modeling projects contain strong elements of “voodoo” science – especially when looking at how the boundary conditions are estimated.
Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering
© 2014 USCID
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