Impact of upstream changes in rain-fed agriculture on downstream flow in a semi-arid basin uri icon

abstract

  • The downstream impacts of increasing water consumption in the upstream rain-fed areas of the Karkheh Basin, Iran are simulated using the semi-distributed SWAT model. Three scenarios are tested at subbasin and basin levels: converting rain-fed areas to irrigation agriculture (Si). improving soil water availability through rainwater harvesting (S2), and a combination of both (S3). The results of these scenarios were compared against the baseline period 1988-2000. The Si scenario shows a 10% reduction in mean annual flow at the basin level, varying from 8-15% across the subbasins. The reductions in mean monthly flows are in the range of 1-56% at the basin level, with June witnessing the highest flow reduction. Flow reductions are comparatively higher in the upstream parts of the basin, as a result of a relatively higher potential of developing rain-fed areas coupled with comparatively lower amount of available runoff. The impacts of S2 are generally small with reductions of 2-5% and 1-9% in mean annual and mean monthly flows. respectively. The results of S3 are in general similar to those of Si. Although the estimated annual flow reductions remain well within the available water resources development potential, measures needs to be taken to avoid excessive flow reductions in May. June and July. It is recommended that only a limited agricultural area should be converted from rain-fed to irrigated agriculture (about 0.1 million ha), and should practice supplementary irrigation. The supplies should also be augmented through developing additional water storage. Adopting such measures is extremely important for the upper subbasins Gamasiab and Qarasou where comparatively higher flow reductions were estimated. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2011
  • 2011