Operational management of agricultural water based on an economic perspective was investigated as a sustainable approach in water shortage periods. Accordingly, an automatic water distribution system was coupled with the Positive Mathematical Programming economic model for a sustainable agricultural water operation in the Roodasht irrigation network, Iran. Operational management was carried out based on the economic value of water in each irrigated unit. According to the results, the existing operating system was able to supply 71 and 22% of farmers’ water requirements under normal and water shortage conditions, respectively. However, employing the proposed automated operational-economic approach reduced water consumption by 14.3%, while maintaining the cultivation area by 11% and increasing farmers’ net profit to 840,000 USD under water scarcity. The economic operation can reduce water losses, implement economic strategies in those districts without water marketing mechanisms, and provide sustainable management of limited water resources in hyper-arid regions.
An operating system is proposed for districts with a lack of a market mechanism.
Surface water distribution is conducted based on the economic value of water.
The water conservation objective is fulfilled by employing an automatic control system.
An automatic operating system is developed to fulfill the economic objectives.