Chapter 8Project and Farm IrrigationWater Requirements
The previous chapters of this Guide focused on indi-vidual fields where the water supply and other condi-tions do not limit operation of on-farm irrigationsystems. Where water for multiple farms is supplied byan offsite group, a water distribution system andschedule for the irrigated area must be developed. It isdesirable to have an adequate source of water avail-able and supplied to each irrigated parcel in a timelymanner for the crops selected. Various methods havebeen employed to accomplish this distribution. Cropirrigation water requirements and water supply areprimary considerations.Experience in planning, design, operation, and man-agement of existing projects is desirable. When formu-lating a project, a thorough multidisciplinary evalua-tion is needed to obtain the most technically appropri-ate, economical, and environmentally sound solution. The project must be manageable and reasonable tooperate and maintain. It must also be socially accept-able and meet today’s standards. This chapter provides concepts that illustrate the useof irrigation water requirement principles when plan-ning and designing irrigation projects. This is not adesign guide for irrigation delivery systems. Refer toother appropriate guidelines for more information onproject design. The Natural Resources ConservationService (NRCS) reference
Economic and Environ- mental Principles and Guidelines for Water Related Land Resource Implementation Studies
providesdetailed guidelines for documentation. Section652.0808 describes in detail a planning outline that willassist planning staffs with irrigation project planning. The intensity of investigations required varies with thelevel of planning, scope, and significance of theproject. Generally, preliminary planning is less inten-sive than planning for investigation and evaluation of the selected alternative. Many computer programs areavailable to perform various parts of project evalua-tion. Their use is encouraged.An irrigation project is defined as blocks of irrigatedland within a defined boundary, developed or adminis-tered by a group or agency. Water is delivered from asource to individual turnouts via a system of canals,laterals, or pipelines. The irrigated block generallyinvolves many farms that can have multiple fields perfarm. Irrigation water requirements used for designing,managing, or upgrading irrigation projects are similarto an on-farm analysis. With projects, the analysis isexpanded to include all landowners, cropland area,crops, and irrigation systems. General examples areprovided to illustrate the procedure. Irrigation projectsshould distribute the available water supply to irriga-tors in an equitable and dependable manner. Theirrigator should be aware of flow rates and frequenciesof available water in their own terms. In some areas, avisual understanding is as important to the water useras is an actual flow in gallons per minute (gpm), cubicfeet per second (ft
/s), miners inches, or local mea-surement terms.Project irrigation water requirement analysis include:•Determining irrigable lands and project im-pacts on natural resources.•Determining water availability.•Determining crop irrigation water require-ments.•Determining on-farm irrigation water require-ments.
Determining irrigable lands and project impactson soil, water, air, plants, animals, and localpeople (SWAPA+H)—
A field analysis should bemade to determine suitability of irrigable lands. Basicare a quality soil survey and 1- to 5-foot contour topo-graphic maps. To support estimates for soils interpre-tations, irrigation related field and laboratory testsmay be needed. The information can include bulkdensities to help determine available water capacity,field tests to determine soil intake characteristics,specific ranges in salinity levels, and types and con-centration of toxic elements. Other considerationsinclude internal drainage capability, water table exist-ence and depth, soil erodibility, farmability, and onsiteand offsite environmental concerns (wildlife, waterquality, air quality).
Determining water availability
—This includes thesource, quantity, timeliness, location, quality, andwater right availability.