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Texas Tech University (2012)

Optimal groundwater use and dryland adoption utilizing the hotelling framework in the southern high plains

Principe, Jonathaniel

Titre : Optimal groundwater use and dryland adoption utilizing the hotelling framework in the southern high plains

Auteur : Principe, Jonathaniel

Université de soutenance : Texas Tech University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2012

Résumé partiel
Interest in nonrenewable resources has ignited numerous economic and public policy debates on long-term sustainability issues. On the Southern High Plains (SHP), functionally nonrenewable groundwater for agricultural irrigation has received significant attention given the central role of the agricultural sector to the regional economy. Current policies center on conservation, which is not equivalent to a policy of sustainability. Currently irrigation restrictions are being implemented under the so-called 50/50 Management Goal for the SHP where 50 percent of the saturated thickness of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer will be maintained in 50 years. This evades the central issue and causes several unintended consequences that interfere with true overall economic stability in the long run. Over draft of the aquifer is inevitable. Recharge cannot support even minimal levels of pumping for agriculture. So from an agricultural and economic perspective, the economic centrality of irrigated agriculture to the local economy which cannot be sustained classifies the Ogallala as a nonrenewable resource. This work then treats aquifer management directly as a nonrenewing resource and looks to the Hotelling nonrenewable resource model adapted to the SHP conditions. Groundwater research in the SHP has increasingly focused on the relevance of long-term issues. With a few exceptions, studies that have modeled the SHP aquifer decline tend to use the conventions to pre-set the planning period, thereby fixing a final groundwater target exogenously at some period. Targets may be a 50/50 Management Goal or depletion of the aquifer at a set, pre-fixed time. However, these modeling conveniences do not endogenize the terminal and transition period out of irrigated agriculture to other systems, such as dryland farming or other renewable energy systems. A pre-fixed end date used to compare policies misses many of the responses of producers and thereby over-estimates or under-estimates the long run impacts of a policy, such as the 50/50 rule. In this study, we develop a simple and surprisingly tractable behavioral model under certainty and with some attention to risk on groundwater utilization in the SHP. This groundwater model retains the main features of the Hotelling framework : that producers will consider the economic effects of the last quantities of applied irrigation today on the profitability of irrigation tomorrow, and producers try to balance these economic trade-offs. What is perhaps surprising is that the assumed decision process is a lot less complex than more standard or classical exemplars of the Hotelling framework.

Mots clés : Groundwater ; High Plains Aquifer ; Hydrology ; Hydraulic Engineering ; Sustainability and the Environment ; Sustainability


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