Predictability trumps efficiency

John Fleck has written a fascinating summary of his panel at the Colorado River Water Users Association conference in scenic Las Vegas. He mentions that California, Arizona and Nevada are working on a series of deals to reduce their use of Colorado River water at various elevations of Lake Mead, expanding on the provisions of…

Does anyone actually want a spot market for water?

This is going to be a short post simply to ask the above question. It’s obvious to me that policymakers, academics and commentators are in love with the idea of a spot market for water- in other words, an instantaneous market that connects buyers and sellers of water and puts the resource to its “highest…

Prior Appropriation is a Cap-and-Trade System

I didn’t set out to do this when I started this blog, or when I started my research into the future of water and society in the American West, but I seem to have brought upon myself a debate with the field of water economics. Water economists like market-derived solutions to our water problems, a…

The Problem with Water Markets

The historic drought in California has brought much welcome attention to the problems of water allocation in the American West. I can’t even count the number of articles explaining the “wasteful” water use by California’s almond and alfalfa farmers, or the ones laying out a better way forward. Two days ago, an international affairs fellow…

Water Use is Like the Library

I happen to be writing from the Boulder Public Library today (they have excellent air conditioning and my house is hotter than the Mojave Desert). I’ve also been thinking about water management on a more basic level- what should be our guiding principle? This Reddit AMA and the general gist of argument by David Zetland…