June 22, 2021
News Release

New IrrigationViz Tool Promotes Water, Energy and Environment for Communities

New software aids in modernizing nation’s irrigation system

Water sprays skyward from an irrigation system and down onto an agricultural operation.

Agriculture is a major source of groundwater and surface water use in the United States, accounting for approximately 37 percent of the nation's consumptive water use. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an era of increasingly limited and more costly water supplies. 

(Photo by JCFUL | Pixabay.com)

RICHLAND, Wash.—Reinvesting in the nation’s irrigation systems can promote the economic well-being of farmers and rural communities, generate more renewable energy and advance environmental stewardship. Cutting carbon emissions within the farm sector, too, can aid in the work of combating climate change.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, Idaho National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new software tool, IrrigationViz, to help assess the costs and benefits of irrigation modernization.

Irrigation technology has developed to the point where pressurized pipes can deliver water for irrigation while generating in-conduit hydropower that can be used to power electric pumps that currently rely on diesel and, in the future, power electric tractors and combines. The right of ways for these pipes can also be used for fiberoptic cable, bringing broadband to rural areas that may not have high-speed internet options.

IrrigationViz is a decision support and visualization tool that enables users to estimate how much water is lost by the current system, how much water would be saved by specific investments and how much hydropower potential there is in the system. It also estimates higher-value crops that could be planted based on the improved water reliability, water purification and habitat benefits of including wetlands and connectivity between surface and groundwater sources.

For more information, see the INL news release.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.