Sustaining Aquifers Hydrologically, Economically, and Institutionally

46 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2023

See all articles by Chibuzo Chilaka

Chibuzo Chilaka

New Mexico State University

Alex J. Rinehart

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Haoying Wang

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Frank Ward

New Mexico State University

Abstract

Groundwater discharge exceeding recharge threatens sustainable water use internationally.  Interest remains high in discovering hydrologically sustainable and economically affordable measures to protect these aquifers.  Previous research has conducted various aquifer assessments.  Some work has investigated costs and benefits of various plans that would limit aquifer pumping.  Despite notable advances in this kind of analysis, little published work to date has unified these elements into a science-based integrated framework to inform sustainable aquifer policy design. This work’s innovative and novel contribution is to integrate analysis of hydrology, economics, and policy into a unified scientific framework to inform choices on sustainable pumping strategies while protecting economic activity for agricultural and urban water using sectors.  It does so by conceptualizing, formulating, designing, and applying a mathematical programming framework to replicate historically observed pumping patterns in parts of the Southern and Central High Plains Ogallala Aquifer region.  We first calibrated the optimization framework to replicate the historical facts.  We then go on to identify least cost pumping caps that would have restored the aquifer to its 2014 level by 2020, while comparing the performance of four other aquifer protecting policy measures. Findings indicate a surprisingly low cost that could have been incurred to sustain the aquifer over that period.  However, these low costs are complicated by (1) decreasing water quality outside of the irrigated regions and (2) focusing of lateral inputs to a narrower zone of depression around the irrigated regions. These findings carry important implications for identifying sustainable aquifer management plans internationally.  The work’s importance comes from its capacity to inform policy debates over a range of water shortage sharing plans, while respecting institutional constraints governing equitable burden sharing.

Keywords: Aquifer sustainability, agronomy, hydrogeology, economics, policy

Suggested Citation

Chilaka, Chibuzo and Rinehart, Alex J. and Wang, Haoying and Ward, Frank, Sustaining Aquifers Hydrologically, Economically, and Institutionally. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4576524 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4576524

Chibuzo Chilaka

New Mexico State University ( email )

College of Business
Las Cruces, NM 88003
United States

Alex J. Rinehart

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ( email )

801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801
United States

Haoying Wang

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology ( email )

801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801
United States

Frank Ward (Contact Author)

New Mexico State University ( email )

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