Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Document Type



The common property nature of the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer (MRAA) results in the formation of a cone of depression in the southern portion of the aquifer encompassing Concordia parish, Louisiana. Excessive groundwater withdrawal and the resulting cone of depression formation have caused some wells to go dry and others to be affected by saltwater intrusion. The depleting groundwater stock can be managed optimally using different groundwater management policies. The findings of this dissertation are relevant to both policymakers and researchers to understand the effects of policies to keep the aquifer sustainable.

My dissertation is written in a three-essay format. In the first essay, I summarize the recent developments in the hydro-economic models that are used to evaluate the groundwater management policies. A comprehensive overview of the recent literature shows the need to take an interdisciplinary approach to overcome many hydrological, economical, and institutional challenges. There is a need to focus on transboundary groundwater management and the conjunctive use of surface and groundwater in the hydro-economic modeling framework.

In the second essay, I estimate the profit gains resulting from the optimal management under quota, well depth limit, and the combined quota and well depth limit policies. I develop a hydro-economic model that accounts for both groundwater quality and quantity tradeoffs. Results from the numerical dynamic optimization model show that there is a profit gain under policy instruments.

Imposing a quota shows the tradeoffs between resilience and economic payoffs. Combining a quota and well depth limit policy perform better than other policy instruments when the aquifer has severe salinity.

In the third essay, I assess the potential economic impact of crop choice and groundwater conservation. I develop a crop choice model where an individual farmer has a crop planting or land fallowing choice each year. The main objective of the third essay is to estimate the future returns from the irrigated land under the scenarios of 30%, 20%, 10%, 5%, and no groundwater conservation from 2020 to 2022. I find that the profit of 2,572 farmers increased cumulatively by 0.14% when they conserve groundwater by 30% for three years.

Committee Chair

Paudel, Krishna P.