The UKIA was launched in 1980 following a spate of very dry years and the publication of the Strutt Report "Water for Agriculture: future needs", which predicted rapid growth in UK irrigation. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s irrigated agriculture gradually grew in importance. Nowadays, it is now an essential component of high value production on many family farms and agribusinesses, helping to deliver the high quality, continuous supplies of potatoes, field vegetables and fruit demanded by the major supermarkets and processors.
However, agricultural and horticultural production is under increasing pressure to demonstrate that water abstracted for irrigation is used in a more sustainable and efficient way.
Ongoing changes in the abstraction licensing regime coupled with new water and environmental regulation, competition for limited supplies and the longer term threat of climate change will all place greater pressure on irrigated production. It is important that the irrigation industry reduces water wastage, and maximises the value of water used for the benefit of the agri-food industry, the rural economy and the natural environment.
But agriculture is not the only user of water for irrigation. Golf courses, landscaping and other amenities are becoming increasingly important irrigation users and they too must look at ways of managing water better and look to the future in terms of securing their rights of access to water. Since 1980, the objectives of the UKIA have remained largely unchanged. The Association aims to: