Identifying Effective Policy and Technologic Reforms for Sustainable Groundwater Management in Oman

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:15 AM
Kaveh Madani1, Slim Zekri2 and Akbar Karimi2, (1)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (2)Sultan Qaboos University, Department of Natural Resources Economics, Muscat, Oman
Oman has gone through three decades of efforts aimed at addressing groundwater over-pumping and the consequent seawater intrusion. Example of measures adopted by the government since the 1990’s include a vast subsidy program of irrigation modernization, a freeze on drilling new wells, delimitation of several no-drill zones, a crop substitution program, re-use of treated wastewater and construction of recharge dams. With no major success through these measures, the government laid the ground for water quotas by creating a new regulation in 1995. Nevertheless, groundwater quotas have not been enforced to date due to the high implementation and monitoring costs of traditional flow meters. This presentation discusses how sustainable groundwater management can be secured in Oman using a suit of policy and technologic reforms at a reasonable economic, political and practical cost. Data collected from farms with smart meters and low-cost wireless smart irrigation systems have been used to propose sustainable groundwater withdrawal strategies for Oman using a detailed hydro-economic model that couples a MODFLOW-SEAWAT model of the coastal aquifers with a dynamic profit maximization model. The hydro-economic optimization model was flexible to be run both as a social planner model to maximize the social welfare in the region, and as an agent-based model to capture the behavior of farmers interested in maximizing their profits independently. This flexibility helped capturing the trade-off between the optimality of the social planner solution developed at the system’s level and its practicality (stability) with respect to the concerns and behaviors of the profit-maximizing farmers. The idetified promising policy and technolgical reforms for Oman include strict enforcement of groundwater quotas, smart metering, changing crop mixes, improving irrigation technologies, and revising geographical distribution of the farming activities. The presentation will discuss how different combinations of these reforms would affect groundwater and energy use, groundwater level and salinity, crop yield, and agricultural revenues in the future.