Systems Modeling Sustainable Land and Water Policy in Alberta's Irrigation Sector

Overview

This three-year research project focuses on the opportunities and risks associated with irrigated agriculture in the province in the short- and long-term. The objective of the program is to identify the relationships between irrigated agriculture and economic, environmental, social, and policy factors. It also seeks to identify and assess the impacts of alternative policy options on the irrigation sector in the province over the next twenty-five years. This work is being conducted in several stages.

First, a variety of water management policy options are being identified through literature reviews, meetings with an advisory panel of stakeholders and policymakers, and the identification of cause-and-effect relationships between key economic, environmental and social factors. Identified options will then be evaluated using a systems model that simulates the potential near- and long-term economic, environmental and social impacts associated with the implementation of each option.

This analysis will be further supported by sub-projects relating to the environmental and economic impacts of various “what-if” scenarios, benefit-cost analysis, analysis of water- and land-use impacts, and analysis of risks and mitigation strategies. Taken together, these studies and the systems model built as part of the project will be of great use to policymakers engaged with the issue of water management in Alberta’s irrigated districts.

 

Research Team

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Evan Davies, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta

Dr. Miles Dyck, Associate Professor of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta.

CO-INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Scott Jeffrey, Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

Dr. Feng Qiu, Assistant Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

STUDENTS

Mohamed Ammar, PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.

Bijon Brown, PhD student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

Xiaofeng Ruan, PhD student in Renewable Resources, University of Alberta.

Dareskedar Amsalu, Masters student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

Marie-Ève Jean, Masters student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta.

Dawn Trautman, Masters student in Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

PAST MEMBERS

Dr. Jim Unterschultz, Associate Professor of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology, University of Alberta.

Research Questions

This project assembles a ten-person interdisciplinary team to explore the interaction of a variety of subsystems within Alberta’s irrigated districts.

Below are some of the primary research questions under investigation:

1. What economic, environment, social, and policy linkages exist related to agriculture, and how do these factors interact within Alberta’s irrigation districts?

2. What is the future outlook for irrigation, given changes in irrigated areas, crop types, infrastructure and climate, as well as regional development?

3. What are the current policies related to irrigation in Alberta, and what policies from similar jurisdictions might be applicable in Alberta?

4. What are the potential costs and benefits of existing and potential irrigation and water management policies in Alberta?

5. What outcomes related to water supply might develop under different economic, environmental, social, and policy scenarios?