Third World Centre for Water Management

Journals

Volume 16, Issue 2

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GUEST EDITORIAL
Water and Agriculture in the American West


WATER CONSERVATION, COMPETITION AND QUALITY IN WESTERN IRRIGATED AGRICULTURE: AN OVERVIEW OF THE W-190 REGIONAL RESEARCH PROJECT, 1994-99 (pp. 177-185)

Chennat Gopalakrishnan, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA

Abstract: Irrigated agriculture in the American West has experienced a variety of problems in respect of the supply, demand, allocation and management of water. In an effort to address some of these issues, a regional research project (W-190) entitled ‘Water Conservation, Competition and Quality in Western Irrigated Agriculture’ was set up in 1994, initially for a Žve-year period. The papers published in this special issue of IJWRD are the upshot of research conducted to meet the three speciŽc objectives of this project. This paper presents an overview and assessment of research carried out under this project, by objective and by state, during its Žrst Žve-year period.


IRRIGATION IN THE AMERICAN WEST: AREA, WATER AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY (pp. 187-195)

Noel Gollehon and William Quinby, Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, USDA, USA

Contact: Noel Gollehon, e-mail: gollehon@ers.usda.gov

Abstract: This article examines irrigation in the American West based on consistent Federal data sources. Irrigation is discussed using three measures: irrigated area, water use in irrigation, and the sales value of crops produced. We Žnd that irrigation accounts for about three-quarters of the value of crops sold from about one-quarter of the harvested cropland in the West. In accomplishing the higher sales, irrigated agriculture accounts for three-quarters of the water withdrawn and most of the water use in the West.


WATER ALLOCATION, TRANSFERS AND CONSERVATION: LINKS BETWEEN POLICY AND HYDROLOGY (pp. 197-208)

Gareth P. Greena and Joel R. Hamiltonb

aDepartment of Economics, Western Washington University, Bellingham, USA; bDepartment of Agricultural Economics, University of Idaho, USA

Contact: Gareth P. Green, e-mail: gareth.green@wwwu.edu

Abstract: As the demand for water for agricultural, urban, industrial and environmental uses increases, it will be necessary to better understand the interaction between hydrology and the institutions that will govern water use. Water transfers are considered one of the primary tools for coping with increased water demand. This paper examines several key issues and demonstrates potential pitfalls that must be addressed when designing water transfer policy. An important result is that to be effective, water transfer policy must account for basin hydrology.


EXPECTATIONS IN WATER-RIGHT PRICES (pp. 209-219)

Ari M. Michelsena, James F. Bookerb and Patrick Personc

aAgricultural Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University, USA; bDepartment of Economics, Alfred University; cDepartment of Economics, University of Wyoming, USA

Contact: Ari M. Michelsen, e-mail: a-michelsen@tamu.edu

Abstract: Water markets are increasingly being used and promoted as an economically efŽcient means to transfer water rights. Knowledge of water-right price determinants and trends is important in developing markets, and in evaluating the comparative beneŽts and costs of water supply alternatives. Potential determinants of homogeneous water-right prices are identiŽed, and a two-equation model based on rational expectations theory is developed. The model is tested using empirical evidence from the established market for Colorado-Big Thompson water rights. The model results support observations that returns to water in irrigation do not adequately explain the level of water-right prices. Socioeconomic and speculative factors are found to explain successfully the variations in historical prices, and appear to play a substantial role in water-right price formation. These Žndings have important implications in assessing the beneŽts of proposed water-transfer policies.


ECONOMIC AND CONSERVATION TRADEOFFS OF REGULATORY VS. INCENTIVE-BASED WATER POLICY IN THE PACI.C NORTHWEST (pp. 221-238)

Glenn D. Schaible, Resource Economics Division, Economic Research Service, USDA, USA

E-mail: schaible@ers.usda.Gov

Abstract: In this paper, onfarm water conservation and agricultural economic tradeoffs between selected regulatory and conservation-incentive water-policy choices are evaluated for the PaciŽc Northwest. Five broad water-policy perspectives are analysed using a total of 37 alternative policy scenarios. Policy analyses use a primal/dual-based, multi-product, normalized restricted-equilibrium model of PaciŽc Northwest Želd-crop agriculture. Results demonstrate that conservation-incentive water policy, when integrated within balanced policy reform, can produce upwards of 1.7 million acre-feet of onfarm conserved water for the region, while also signiŽcantly increasing economic returns to farmers. Producer willingness to accept water-policy change is lowest for regulatory policy (US$4–$18 per acre-foot of conserved water), but highest for conservation- incentive policy that increases both irrigation efŽciency and crop productivity ($67–$208 per acre-foot of conserved water). Conservation-incentive water policy also enhances decision-maker exibility in meeting multiple regional policy goals (i.e. water for endangered aquatic species, water quality, Native American treaty obligations, and sustainable rural agricultural economies).


ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF MECHANISMS TO RESOLVE WATER CONFLICTS (pp. 239-251)

Bonnie G. Colbya and Tamra Pearson D’Estreeb

aDepartment of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Arizona, Tucson; bInstitute for Conict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Fairfax, USA

Abstract: Conicts involving water resources are pervasive and the costs of the conicts themselves and attempts to resolve them represent a substantial social investment. Several mechanisms are used to resolve water disputes: litigation, market transactions, political deal-making, and alternative dispute resolution techniques. This article examines the types of costs and beneŽts associated with resolving water disputes and proposes several criteria to be used in evaluating the economic aspects of dispute resolution mechanisms.


A GAME THEORETIC ANALYSIS OF INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR PLATTE RIVER MANAGEMENT (pp. 253-264)

Raymond J. Supalla, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, USA

Abstract: Emerging environmental demands for water resources have created a need in many river basins to reallocate available water resources. How to resolve the conicts and balance the interests that are inherent in such reallocations is a formidable challenge. Efforts to meet this challenge have been under way for the Platte River in the USA since the mid-1970s and several different approaches to reaching an agreement have been tried. This paper uses economic and behavioural concepts drawn from game theory to evaluate past efforts at conict resolution and to assess the prospects for using game models to facilitate the resolution of this continuing water-allocation problem.


THE ROLE OF PRIOR APPROPRIATION IN ALLOCATING WATER RESOURCES INTO THE 21ST CENTURY (pp. 265-273)

Ray Huffakera, Norman Whittleseya and Joel R. Hamiltonb

aDepartment of Agricultural Economics, Washington State University, Pullman, USA; bUniversity of Idaho, USA

Abstract: This article demonstrates how widespread technological changes in agriculture have weakened the security of traditional appropriative water rights. Since legal protection of these rights has severely restricted the use of transfer mechanisms to reallocate water to emerging social needs, this demonstration provides a powerful and novel argument for increasing the exibility of the prior appropriation system and operating it in conjunction with other legitimate water-allocation doctrines protecting public interests in water.


THE ‘INTRASTATE-TRADE-RESTRICTION’ DEFENCE IN COMMERCE-CLAUSE CHALLENGES OF STATE-IMPOSED RESTRICTIONS ON WATER EXPORTS TO NEIGHBOURING STATES (pp. 275-279)

Ray Huffakera, Marshall Frasierb and Joel R. Hamiltonc

aDepartment of Agricultural Economics, Washington State University; bColorado State University; cUniversity of Idaho, USA

Abstract: A state-imposed restriction on water exports to neighbouring states runs the risk of exciting constitutional challenge as an impermissible barrier to interstate trade under the dormant commerce clause. Recent federal court cases are reviewed to determine whether a state can avoid, or survive, such a challenge to a water export restriction by contending that its statutes restrict intrastate water transfers to a similar extent. These cases demonstrate that states have not been successful with this defence. We therefore recommend that states not impose, or maintain, restrictions on intrastate water transfers for the purpose of keeping the option open on such a defence.

 

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