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Marketing Conserved Water: Lessons From Australia For The Western United States

Author(s): World Wat er Congress XV Edinburgh, 28 May 2015
World Water Congress 2015 Edinburgh Scotland
14. Valuing water: monetary and non-monetary dimensions
Author(s): Professor Mark Squillace
Anthony McLeod
Professor Mark Squillace, University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, Colorado
Anthony McLeod, General Manager, Water Resources Planning, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Canberra, Australia


The Problem
  • Property rights regimes for water can be inflexible, protecting historic rights at the expense of present needs
  • Property rights in water are too often defined in ways that make it hard to buy and sell them (nonfungible)
  • Agricultural users fear loss of dominant position and are wary of change
  • Political systems tend to protect agricultural rights regimes
Another view of the problem: How do we move water from ag to urban use?
A proposed solution
  • Recognize as Australian did that (some) water rights must be defined in fungible units of trade
  • For the Western U.S. this means defining water in terms of water consumption
  • For political reasons, limit water marketing to schemes that protect agricultural communities
  • By allowing the transfer of 􀇲conserved water only farmers can keep farming


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