Irrigated agriculture: more than ‘big water’ and ‘accountants will [not] save the world’

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Two of Tony Allan’s phrases – big water and accountants will save the world – invite me to argue that irrigation is poorly served when its hydrology is seen solely as big or via accounts. While big applies because irrigated areas deplete considerable volumes of water, irrigation systems contain many more water relations, behaviours and puzzles. In this problematic, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and water accountants and accounts will become a dominant force. This is worrying for the degree to which individual irrigation systems are rendered into catchment-level accounting abstractions, removing us from a more vital, multidisciplinary, cross-scale and action-oriented approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1155-1164
Number of pages10
JournalWater International
Issue number7
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Corporate accounting
  • environmental
  • food water
  • hydrology
  • irrigation efficiency
  • social and governance (ESG)

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