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Western Plateau Planning Area Cultural Water Demand - Agricultual Demand

Figure 6.0-18 Average Annual Western Plateau Planning Area Cultural Water Demand by Sector, 2001-2005 (in acre-feet)

Figure 6.0-18

Total cultural water demand in the Western Plateau Planning Area averaged approximately 9,600 AFA during the period 2001-2005.   As shown in Figure 6.0-18, the agricultural demand sector was the largest use sector with approximately 4,600 AFA of demand, 48% of the total.  With the exception of small pastures, agricultural demand occurs only in the Kanab Plateau and Virgin River basins.  Approximately 57% of agricultural demand was met by groundwater during 2001-2005. Municipal demand represented about 42% of the total planning area demand with an average of approximately 4,000 AFA during the period 2001-2005. Municipal demand was primarily met by groundwater and the municipal sector was the only sector that utilizes effluent.  Industrial demand, primarily related to golf course irrigation, accounted for more than 900 AFA, 10% of the total demand during this period.  Tribal water demand is included in these totals.

Agricultural Demand

Agricultural demand in the planning area averaged about 4,600 AFA during 2001-2005, primarily for pasture irrigation (Table 6.0-12). Aside from small domestic pastures and gardens, agricultural irrigation is found only in the Kanab Plateau and Virgin River basins. Note that the data source for the cultural demand maps in the groundwater basin sections is from satellite imagery collected between 1999 and 2001 and may not accurately represent more recent agricultural demands in the planning area. 

Table 6.0-12 Agricultural water demand in the Western Plateau Planning Area

Table 6.0-12

There is considerably less irrigation in the Kanab Plateau Basin now than historic levels.  From 1976 through 1990 approximately 2,000 acre-feet of groundwater was pumped annually (Table 6.3-8) and between 1,400 to 1,850 acres of alfalfa, pasture and a minor amount of grain and corn were historically irrigated with surface water from Kanab Creek. (ADWR, 1998)  By 2007, the USGS estimated approximately 1,400 acre-feet of water was used for irrigation.

In the Fredonia area, surface water from Kanab Creek was historically diverted between Kanab Dam and Fredonia Dam, primarily within the boundaries of the Fredonia Consolidated Irrigation and Manufacturing Company District. The District owns and operates the Fredonia Dam, constructed in 1918, and a concrete-lined distribution ditch. District lands are located mainly east of Kanab Creek south of the town (ADWR, 1998).  The USGS conducted a field survey of the area in 2007 and found 413 acres flood irrigated with surface water and 65 acres sprinkler irrigated with groundwater with a total demand of 676 AFA (Table 6.0-13).

Table 6.0-13 Active agricultural acres in the Kanab Plateau (2008) and Virgin River (2007) basins

Table 6.0-13

The USGS observed 72 acres of irrigation at Colorado City in 2007 with an associated demand of 262 acre-feet (Table 6.0-13).  Large fallow areas, previously irrigated with center pivot systems, were observed in the Colorado City area in summer 2007.  At Moccasin, the USGS found about 129 acres of irrigation, primarily alfalfa in 2007. There is a small amount of agricultural activity, including a 1,300-tree fruit orchard, on the Kaibab-Paiute Indian Reservation with an estimated groundwater demand of about 50 AFA.

In the Virgin River Basin, irrigation demand declined from an annual average of 14,500 acre-feet during the period 1996-2000 to an annual average of 3,600 acre-feet during 2001-2005.  This decline occurred due to flood damage along the Virgin River and Beaver Dam Wash and to urbanization.  By 2005, it was estimated that about 525 acres were still in production in the Littlefield/Beaver Dam area (Kyle Spencer, NRCS, personal communication 3/25/05).  However, when the USGS conducted a field investigation of the area in 2006, it found just 42 acres in active production, primarily alfalfa, with an associated demand of 157 acre-feet.

Pasture in Beaver Dam

Pasture in the Beaver Dam area, Virgin River Basin.


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