Irrigation and Drainage Systems, vol.22, pp.47-66, 2008 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)
Develi Basin is a semi-arid basin in central Turkey where water sustains both irrigated agriculture and an internationally important wetland, the Sultan Marshes. Agricultural and environmental changes in the Develi Basin have occurred since irrigation management was transferred in 1994 from a state authority (DSI) to irrigation associations (Kovalı and Ağcaaşar IAs). In this paper we evaluate the practices of the IAs using extensive data from interviews with farmers and IA officials, as well as data from reports prepared by DSI and the IAs, using comparisons with case studies reported in the scientific literature. Irrigated areas and surface water use in the Develi Basin showed significant fluctuations from 1995 to 2003. The area allocated to high water-consuming plants increased. Maintenance activities became dependent on fee collection rates. Quality of the irrigation water did not changed significantly. Ground-water levels, flow rates from springs, and water levels in the Sultan Marshes all dropped. Overall analyses indicate that the water requirements of the Sultan Marshes have not been met, while water use for irrigation has been effective but not efficient. To reconcile agricultural and wetland water requirements, a basin-wide approach in water planning is recommended. Amounts of water to be allocated to the IAs and wetlands need to be clearly defined. DSI has to monitor canal maintenance by the IAs more closely, and IAs need to be given more responsibilities for future rehabilitation of the canals. Realistic water pricing, increased reliability of irrigation scheduling, higher on-farm irrigation efficiency, and in the long-term, modernization of the irrigation system need to be considered.