Irrigation techniques have greatly enhanced agricultural output. However, such practices can sometime create more problems than they solve.
There are several environmental as well as health problems relating to irrigation. Irrigation consumes a
great deal of freshwater, thus reducing the drinking water supply for various populations. Irrigation sites also attract and encourage the breeding of mosquitoes, a situation that can result in the transmission of the diseases that these insects carry. Another very large concern is the use of wastewater for irrigation; this practice increases the risk of many sewage related diseases, including cholera and hepatitis.
There are, however, a number of possible solutions to the risks
associated with irrigation. Taking precautions with irrigation-scheduling and other simple improvements can result in at least short-term water and health conservation. Other possible solutions include strategic work with dams and channel-digging to regulate water flow.
Collaboration between water development planners and health authorities can also greatly lesson disease risks; by weighing economic costs against health consequences, compromises that are effective and
fairly inexpensive can be reached that entail long-term benefits for all parties involved. If preventive steps such as these are not taken, other alternatives will be needed, such as developing chemical control strategies and treatment centers, to cope with already existing problems.
There are several anti-risk strategies involving the use of wastewater. Using wastewater in the planting process, for example, has proved much less damaging than its use during growth cycles.
Risks are also greatly reduced by discontinuing the use of wastewater some time before harvest. Finally, wastewater is obviously much less harmful when used with non-food products.