Administration and Management of Irrigation Water in 24 User Organizations in Chile
Approximately 85% of the water consumed in Chile is destined to agricultural irrigation and is managed by the users themselves. This study analyzed the price that irrigation water users pay to their Water User Associations (WUAs) to which they belong and the relationship of this price to the professional level and performance of the WUAs. The study included 24 WUAs: 10 River Administration Boards (JV) and 14 Irrigation Canal Associations (AC). The annual operational budget of each WUA, the price paid by users and the management capacities of the board of directors of each WUA were compared. The study also determined the relative value of user payments to WUAs as a proportion of total production costs of the main crops in each zone. The variability of user fees per irrigated hectare decreases when the irrigation area of the WUA is more than 10 000 ha, though this was not observed in JVs. The presence of technical-professional staff directly affects the development and growth of the WUAs. As well, the WUAs with a greater level of capacity development (NDC) have more board members with a higher education level and have lower rates of unpaid user fees. The price that users pay to the WUA by irrigated hectare represents less than 4.0% of the average total production cost of the main crops in the study area. Finally, no correlation was found between the prices that users pay and the average profitability of the main crops, or between price and the geographical location of the WUAs.