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Sustainable Management of Large Scale Irrigation Systems: A Decision Support Model for Gediz Basin, Turkey

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While water on a global scale is plentiful, 97% of it is saline and 2.25% is trapped in glaciers and ice, leaving only 0.75% available in freshwater aquifers, rivers and lakes. About 70% of this fresh water is used for agricultural production, 22% for industrial purposes and 8% for domestic purposes. Increasing competition for water for domestic and industrial purposes is likely to reduce the water available for agriculture. Thus, water scarcity is being increasingly accepted as a major limitation on increased agricultural production and food security in the 21st century (Yazar, 2006). Climate change and hydric stress are limiting the availability of clean water. Overexploitation of natural resources has led to environmental unbalance.

Present decisions relative to the management of hydric resources will deeply affect the economy and our future environment (Lermontov et al., 2011). In developing countries, agriculture continues to be an important economic sector as it makes a significant contribution to national incomes and economic growth. As water scarcity intensifies in many regions of the world, better management of irrigation is becoming an issue of paramount importance (Hussain et al., 2007). Skilled management of irrigation should start from planning at the regional level (Lorite et al., 2007). The main problem in planning the management of deficit resources is how to allocate them among multiple users efficiently and equitably by considering the social, economic and political issues, while considering the heterogeneity in soils, crops and climate and the complexity of the water distribution system (Brumbelow et al., 2007; Chambers, 1988; Kilic & Ozgurel, 2005). Sustainable irrigation water management should simultaneously achieve two objectives: sustaining irrigated agriculture for food security and preserving the associated natural environment. A stable relationship should be maintained between these two objectives now and in the future, while potential conflicts between these objectives should be mitigated through appropriate irrigation practices. Cai et al. (2003) carried out an investigation on sustainability analysis for irrigation water management in the Aral Sea Region. This study presents an integrated modeling framework for sustainable irrigation management analysis and applies it to analyze irrigation water management.

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