Ground-water recharge to basin-fill aquifers from unconsumed irrigation water in the western United States is being reduced as irrigators convert to more efficient irrigation systems. In some areas, these changes in irrigation methods may be contributing to ground-water-level declines and reducing the quantity of water available to downgradient users. The components of the water budget were measured or calculated for each field for the 1992 and 1993 irrigation seasons. Precipitation was about 6.5 cm (2.6 inches) both years. The flood-irrigated field received 182 and 156 centimeters (71.6 and 61.4 inches) of irrigation water in 1992 and 1993, and the sprinkler-irrigated field received 52.8 and 87.2 centimeters (20.8 and 34.3 inches) of water, respectively. Evapotrans- piration for alfalfa was calculated using the Penman-Monteith combination equation and was 95.4 and 84.3 centimeters (37.2 and 33.2 inches) for 1992 and 1993, respectively. No runoff and no signifi- cant change in soil moisture in storage was observed from either field. Recharge to the aquifer from the flood-irrigated field was 93.3 and 78.1 centimeters (36.7 and 30.7 inches) in 1992 and 1993 and from the sprinkler-irrigated field was -35.9 and 9.3 centimeters (-14.1 and 3.7 inches), respectively. The daily water budget and soil-moisture profiles in the upper 6.4 meters (21 feet) of the unsaturated zone were simulated with an unsaturated flow model for average climate conditions. Simulated recharge was 57.4 and 50.5 percent of the quantity of irrigation water applied to the flood-irrigated field during 1992 and 1993, respectively, and was 8.7 and 13.8 percent of the quantity of irrigation water applied to the sprinkler-irrigated field.
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USGS Numbered Series
Water budget and simulation of one-dimensional unsaturated flow for a flood- and a sprinkler-irrigated field near Milford, Utah