"We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one."
~ Jacques Cousteau
Irrigated agriculture is the largest use of water in Arizona, using about 68% of the available water supply. In the past, this percentage was as high as 90%; reductions have been the result of both urbanization of agricultural lands and heavy investment by the irrigated agriculture industry in conservation measures both on-farm and in delivery systems.
These investments and practices help growers stretch water supplies, increase productivity and profits, manage situations of water supply scarcity, reduce energy costs and meet the conservation requirements of Arizona's 1980 Groundwater Code.
The links below provide water-efficiency information and assistance for Arizona farmers and ranchers.
Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act (GMA) requires regulation of agricultural irrigation water users within five Active Management Areas (AMAs). Non-expansion is one of the GMA’s key components; this provision limits irrigated farmland to those lands that were legally irrigated between 1975 and 1980.
Additionally, agricultural water conservation programs were established in each management plan. The default conservation program (Base Program) has been in place since the First Management Plan. The Base Program assigns irrigation water allotments based on consumptive use of crops grown between 1975 and 1980, multiplied by an assigned irrigation efficiency. The first modification to the Third Management Plan (2003) created an innovative Best Management Practices (BMP) Program as a voluntary alternative to the Base Program.
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Agricultural Best Management Practices
Arizona Department of Agriculture is a cabinet-level statewide agency that regulates and supports Arizona agriculture in a manner that encourages farming, ranching, and agribusiness while protecting consumers and natural resources. It consists of three main divisions: Animal Services, Environmental Services, and Plant Services; and includes a State Agricultural Laboratory; a Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Standardization and Fresh Produce Grade Inspection program; and an Agricultural Consultation and Training program.