Hoag, Dana LK; Goemans, Chris; Orlando, Anthony
Rules about water use in the West evolved independently from those meant to improve water quality. Sometimes rules governing use have a negative effect on water quality and vice versa. We look at the interaction of use and quality rules in the Lower Arkansas River Valley (LARV) in Southeast Colorado. The adoption of water-saving sprinkler irrigation systems has lagged behind adoption in similar regions. The lag is primarily because the LARV has unique use rules that require replacing water savings to the river when a more efficient system is adopted. At the same time, several studies have found that sprinklers can help with pollution problems from nitrogen, selenium and salinity. We show that economists, working with other sciences, can make sophisticated estimates about the impacts conservation systems. However, it is difficult to present those complex results in a way that helps stakeholders examine the options. An example is presented that allows farmers and others to compare the impacts of different conservation systems across multiple objectives in a simple and meaningful way. Researchers are now better equipped than ever to work with local stakeholders to evaluate conservation systems and address multiple objectives.