Agricultural Water Use

Agricultural water demand forecasts were prepared by the Georgia Water Planning & Policy Center at Albany State University (GWPPC), with support from the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. GWPPC prepared estimates of water use by the agricultural sector in Georgia. The projections cover irrigation for row and orchard crops as well as most vegetable and specialty crops and account for more than 95% of Georgia's irrigated land. Additionally, estimates of current use were made for animal agriculture, horticultural nurseries, and greenhouses.


Agricultural water demands were estimated for the period 2020 to 2060 based on updated irrigated acreage compiled by the GWPPC, modeled crop water needs (informed by data collected from Georgia’s Agricultural Water Metering Program), and economic models of future crop coverage. Annual and monthly estimates of both ground and surface water withdrawals were calculated and provided to members during the plan review and revision process. Each decade's projection included five climatic scenarios ranging from very wet to very dry to simulate a range of weather conditions. Irrigated acreage for each crop was projected from the baseline of year 2020 acres using economic models. Water withdrawal quantities were computed as the product of the projected irrigated area for a crop (acres), the predicted monthly irrigation application depth (inches), and the proportion of irrigation water derived from a source (fraction). For planning purposes, it was decided to use dry year values (75th percentile) for each water planning region since they represent a more conservative scenario than the normal (50th percentile) value. A video explaining the datasets and methods used to develop the agricultural water demand forecasts is linked below. A summary presentation of methods, acreage, irrigation characteristics and forecast demand for each Council is provided below.