Crop Production, Export of Virtual Water and Water-saving Strategies in Arizona

Jinwon Bae, Sandy Dall'erba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing world population and the uncertain hazards that accompany climate change put an increasing pressure on the management and sustainability of scarce environmental resources, notably water. In spite of its water scarcity, the state of Arizona permits as much as 73% of its water to be consumed by a single sector, crop production. Since 79% of such crop production is not consumed in Arizona, it corresponds to exporting up to 67% of the water available in the state to the rest of the country and abroad. It has certain and glooming consequences on the availability of water for a state expected to see its population grow and its climate get drier. Based on input-output techniques, we simulate three scenarios aiming at saving 19% of the water available, a figure set by the first of them based on improving the efficiency of the current irrigation system. The same savings could also be reached by a twenty-seven-fold increase in the price of water or a 19.5% reduction in crop exports. Estimates indicate that the least costly solution is a more efficient irrigation system while export reduction is the second-best choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-156
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Economics
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Agricultural water saving
  • Virtual water flow
  • input-output analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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