Irrigation and Water Use Reporting in the Tennessee Valley Region of Alabama
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Irrigation is the largest consumptive use of water in the United States. Accurate monitoring of water use for irrigation is critical for a state to sustainably manage its water resources. Federal programs provide valuable information for states to utilize, but individual states may develop their own program to supplement those federal programs. In 1993, Alabama passed the Water Resources Act, requiring irrigators with the capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day to apply for a Certificate of Beneficial Use (COU) with Alabama’s Office of Water Resources for each pump that is withdrawing water and report their use annually. Recent studies have revealed issues with the effectiveness of Alabama’s COU program. This study investigated CP irrigation in the Tennessee Valley region in northern Alabama for the years 2011 to 2015 to determine whether CP irrigators were applying for COUs and reporting water use as required by the program. The study found that CP irrigation increased substantially (194 to 324; +67.0%) for the study period. However, the number of pumps registered for irrigators did not change (77) throughout the study period. Furthermore, an attempt to connect CP irrigation sites to their appropriate COU was not possible due to issues with quality control on data collection. The results of the study are compared to the Wiregrass region in southeastern Alabama to build towards a comprehensive understanding of the effectiveness of Alabama’s COU program.