1 Introduction</h5> The irrigated agricultural sector is creating substantial environmental pressures by withdrawing large quantities of water over a long period of time. The excessive water withdrawal for irrigation leaves rivers and wetlands unable to support ecosystems ( Azad and Ancev, 2010; Grafton et al., 2010; Quiggin, 2001 ). A key challenge is to balance water extractions for agricultural production and other uses with provision of appropriate environmental flow to maintain healthy rivers and wetlands. Measuring tradeoffs between economic returns of water use in agricultural sector and its environmental pressures is crucial in constructing policy instruments for better water resource management. There are currently several methods described in the literature that can be used to measure these tradeoffs. Typically, these methods are adequate for an analysis of manufacturing sectors, but do not conform well to the specificities that are encountered in the agricultural sector due to the complexity of evaluating environmental impacts of agricultural activities. A recently developed method defined as ‘environmental performance index’ can measure the tradeoffs between environmental pressures created by irrigated agriculture and its economic performance ( Azad and Ancev, 2010 ). This environmental performance index is a ratio-based approach, and thus the efficiency of
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2014
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