I recently asked a host of entities (NRCS, KWO, DWR, SCC, GMDs, etc.) to begin a Kansas dialog on the potential benefits of tweaking EQIP and AWEP so that these 2 programs can be applied toward reducing consumptive water use (conserving water) AND minimizing any economic impacts as the water conservation is happening.
Both programs are now recognizing the much greater water conservation benefits of transitioning irrigated acres to dryland production – thus truly conserving 100% of the historic consumptive water use. To this end, the program developers are to be commended. But both programs have been focusing on complete water right set asides or conversions in order to qualify.
New economic and hydrologic modeling is convincingly showing that reducing the least efficient portion of water use from a number of irrigation systems will have less economic impact on a region than reducing the same amount of water use completely from fewer systems. These two approaches have the same hydrologic results, but different economic impacts.
GMD 4 is wondering if it is time to consider approaching USDA, NRCS and perhaps others in asking that water conservation programs such as EQIP and AWEP take fuller advantage of the modeling results to lower the economic impacts of their water conservation benefits? To do this, these programs will need to allow for partial consumptive water use reductions from a larger number of participants. This means that EQIP and AWEP are going to need changes accordingly. Are these issues important enough to start developing?
GMD 4 welcomes any comments, ideas or suggestions regarding an open dialog on this issue. Perhaps a specific set of AWEP rules should also be discussed as operating AWEP under EQIP rules has brought to light a few glitches – at least what we consider glitches. Anyone else tracking these issues as well?
Oh, I sent the email request on July 7, and have not heard a word yet from anyone. I hope they're still mulling it over.