Volume 16, Issue 1
Ward, Frank A.; Hurd, Brian H.; Sayles, Sarah
This article describes a series of water issues and policy choices for adapting to climate-stressed river and stream systems. It addresses issues that are important both in New Mexico and internationally for which economic analysis can inform and guide ongoing policy debates. Economic analysis is needed both in New Mexico and overseas to guide plans for efficient, equitable, and sustainable water use and for reducing costs of adapting to climate-stressed river and aquifer systems. Special attention is given to three current water issues in New Mexico: climate-stress adaptation through water trading and banking, adaptation through transboundary aquifer sharing, and adaptation through headwater flow capture. All three of these measures face design and implementation challenges both in New Mexico and internationally for adapting to growing evidence of climate-stressed river systems.
Torrell, Gregory; Stevens, Reid
The severe Texas droughts of the 1950s prompted the development of a comprehensive planning framework to guide the stateÕs water policy and investments. The Texas State Water Plan has been regularly updated since the first plan in 1961 and has developed into a system of regional water plans that define the statewide strategies to mitigate the impact of future severe droughts. In this paper, we describe the history of the Texas State Water Plan, some of its shortcomings, and provide recommendations for its improvement. We recommend that the plan include linkages between demands and supplies, allow for flexibility in regional planning, and expand its scope to allow a more holistic approach to water management.
Washington State has been in fiscal gridlock because a recent court case Ð the Hirst Decision (Hirst)— would require counties to show legal availability of groundwater to issue permits for new rural residential wells that would be in connectivity with surface water. Many argued that this requirement would halt rural residential development in the state. This article examines the context and potential consequences of Hirst through an economic lens. For context, the characteristics of exempt wells and recent legal precursors are discussed. A qualitative assessment of the likely impacts of Hirst and the conditions that might alleviate its effects is provided, followed by potential institutional innovations that may emerge because of or in response to Hirst. These developments in Washington State illustrate some of the complexities of exempt wells common to many of the Western United States.
Colby, Bonnie; Young, Ryan
This article highlights examples of innovative approaches in regional water problem-solving contained in tribal settlements, providing readers with a sense of the possibilities that tribal participation brings to western water management. Many tribal settlements use economic incentives in ways useful to consider in a broader water management context. The article highlights economic components of several specific settlements and concludes by summarizing ways in the economic principles and incentives they illustrate can be more broadly applied in addressing water challenges. Figure 1 lists the tribal nations that are referred to in this article and shows the area where these tribesÕ reservations are located.
Schoengold, Karina; Brozovic, Nicholas
Common groundwater management concerns that are driving policy change worldwide include aquifer depletion, surface water-groundwater interaction, and water quality degradation. This article discusses recent innovations in groundwater quantity management from around the northern and central High Plains region of the United States, where much of the policy change has occurred at a local level. There are several principles underlying the development of new groundwater management tools. Local and stakeholder input are common, generally effective, and are often more politically feasible than top-down regulations. Evidence is emerging that the behavioral and signaling aspects of policy have been effective in changing producer behavior.
Hoag, Dana LK; Goemans, Chris; Orlando, Anthony
Rules about water use in the West evolved independently from those meant to improve water quality. Sometimes rules governing use have a negative effect on water quality and vice versa. We look at the interaction of use and quality rules in the Lower Arkansas River Valley (LARV) in Southeast Colorado. The adoption of water-saving sprinkler irrigation systems has lagged behind adoption in similar regions. The lag is primarily because the LARV has unique use rules that require replacing water savings to the river when a more efficient system is adopted. At the same time, several studies have found that sprinklers can help with pollution problems from nitrogen, selenium and salinity. We show that economists, working with other sciences, can make sophisticated estimates about the impacts conservation systems. However, it is difficult to present those complex results in a way that helps stakeholders examine the options. An example is presented that allows farmers and others to compare the impacts of different conservation systems across multiple objectives in a simple and meaningful way. Researchers are now better equipped than ever to work with local stakeholders to evaluate conservation systems and address multiple objectives.