Effects of alternative water distribution rules on irrigation system performance: A simulation analysis


Based on a simulation model reflecting physical and economic conditions typically found in rice irrigation systems in Asia, the irrigation performance implications of alternative water distribution rules for dry season irrigation are evaluated under varying degrees of water shortage. The rules examined reflect differing water distribution strategies designed either to maximize conveyance efficiency, economic efficiency, or equity; or to achieve a balance between efficiency and equity objectives. Irrigation performance is evaluated using several efficiency measures reflecting the physical, agronomic and economic productivity of water, and one measure of equity. Economic efficiency and equity among farmers within the portion of the irrigation system that is "on" in any given season are shown to be complementary, and not competing objectives. Economic efficiency and equity among all farmers within the command area of the irrigation system are largely complementary strategies at the lower levels of water shortage, but with increasing shortage, significant tradeoffs develop between these objectives. An operational rule for water distribution under a goal of maximizing economic efficiency is developed, and the data requirements for its implementation are shown to be modest. Under the model's assumed conditions of dry season rice production dependent solely on surface irrigation for water, the distribution strategy designed to maximize conveyance efficiency results in only modestly lower levels of economic efficiency and equity than could be achieved by the strategy designed to maximize economic efficiency.

Document Type





Efficiency, Equity, Irrigation performance, Productivity, Rice irrigation, Simulation model

Publication Date


Journal Title

Irrigation and Drainage Systems