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'Estimating potential savings of water for the Bear River Canal Company using spatial analysis tools'
Jonna Van Opstal (j.van_opstal@aggiemail.usu.edu), Utah State University Christopher Neale (christopher.neale@usu.edu), Utah State University

Water savings in irrigated agriculture can be significant under certain conditions as irrigated agriculture is the largest consumer of water in the Western US. In a state such as Utah where the water supply is limited, it is essential to find methods of saving water while maintaining high productivity. Proper management of irrigation water can result in water conservation. For this study, an irrigation district in Northern Utah was selected as a case study called the Bear River Canal Company. The main canal command area encompasses 26500 hectares and the principal crops are alfalfa, corn, hay and small grains. The majority of the irrigators practice basin or border surface irrigation. The soils are mostly silty loam and silty clay loam, with 7 main soil classifications covering the irrigated area. Remote sensing with satellite and airborne imagery was used in an energy balance algorithm to provide crop evapotranspiration (ET) and water use estimates for the study area. Additionally, the remote sensing airborne imagery provides high resolution imagery and aids the distinction of spatial variability along an irrigation lateral. The ET estimation for the irrigation area provides information for the water balance of the irrigation system. Irrigation field evaluations on different soils provided insight on typical infiltration amounts during irrigation events. Bringing these results together will indicate the potential water savings of the irrigation district if changes in canal operations and water deliveries are made. The study of the water balance of this system can lead to improvements in farming practices with the goal of achieving higher productivities and simultaneously conserve water.