Edited by Ariel Dinar and Kurt Schwabe
Chapter 18: Salinity and groundwater management: a hydro-economic analysis
It is a challenge to find a semi-arid or arid agricultural region globally that does not face negative impacts from salinity and drainage problems. Affected areas include approximately 1.5 million hectares of irrigated agricultural lands in the Murray–Darling River Basin, nearly 24 million hectares in the USA, about 4 million hectares in both the Indus Plain and Aral Sea Basin, and over 1 million hectares in the Nile Delta (Schwabe et al., 2006). Due to the impacts of salinity on soil quality, plant growth and thus the long-term sustainability of irrigated agriculture, it is a major concern to not only these regions but also to society at large given that irrigated agriculture supplies 40 percent of the world’s food needs and is targeted to meet most of the future food demand increases (Anderson et al., 1997; Postel, 2000; Rosegrant et al., 2001). Historically, poor salinity management has contributed to the downfall of several societies, including ancient Mesopotamia, the Viru Valley in Peru and the Hohokum indigenous tribes of the Salt River region in Arizona (Tanji, 1990). A common mechanism by which salinity affects agricultural production is through irrigation with saline water.
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