If only we allowed water trading!

I’ve been feeling a quibbling, hair-splitting mood lately. Must be election gaffe season… Anyway, the excellent storyteller Abrahm Lustgarten (you may remember his long series for ProPublica on the Colorado River) has written a new piece for The Atlantic asking if we need “a free-market plan to save the American West from drought.” Lustgarten laments…

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…

Photo Essay: Crowley County

Today I want to take you along on a journey. It’s one I took a few weekends ago. We’re going to not necessarily the most glamorous place. In fact I know it’s not the most glamorous place. We’re going to Southeastern Colorado, the lower Arkansas Valley. We’re going to two places primarily- Ordway and Rocky…

Water Transfers and the Future of the West: Options

This is the fourth part (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) in a series sharing my year-long research into agriculture-to-municipal (AMI) water transfers from scientific, ethical, and practical perspectives. In this section, I explore policy options- some well used, some less so- to mitigate the undesirable effects of AMI transfers on third parties while preserving…