Agricultural operations including animal and crop farming are important contributors to the depletion of water resource quality and quantity in the United States. Agriculture represents approximately 40% of total U.S. water demand, and irrigation is the largest consumptive water use. Agricultural operations have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as the leading source of water quality impairment to rivers and lakes.
While reliable quantification of specific water quality and quantity impacts is generally unavailable, the water resource research community agrees that the following crucial problems are directly relevant to agriculture:
This technology assessment explores the options available to the federal government to effect a move toward sustainable agricultural water management, in light of the problems listed above.