Water is becoming increasingly scarce. If recent usage trends continue, shortages are inevitable. Aquanomics discusses some of the instruments and policies that may be implemented to postpone, or even avoid, the onset of “water crises.” These policies include establishing secure and transferable private water rights and extending these rights to uses that traditionally have not been allowed, including altering in-stream flows and ecosystem functions. The editors argue that such policies will help maximize water ...

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Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment

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Water is becoming increasingly scarce. If recent usage trends continue, shortages are inevitable. Aquanomics discusses some of the instruments and policies that may be implemented to postpone, or even avoid, the onset of “water crises.” These policies include establishing secure and transferable private water rights and extending these rights to uses that traditionally have not been allowed, including altering in-stream flows and ecosystem functions. The editors argue that such policies will help maximize water quantity and quality as water becomes scarcer and more valuable. Aquanomics contains many examples of how this is being accomplished, particularly in the formation of water markets and market-like exchanges of water rights.

Many observers see calamity ahead unless water supplies are harnessed and effectively conserved, and unless water quality can be improved. It is also clear that declining water quality is a serious problem in much of the world, as increasing human activities induce high levels of water degradation. Those who voice these concerns, argue the contributors to this volume, fail to consider the forces for improvement inherent in market political-economic systems that can address water issues. The contributors see water quality in economically advanced countries as improving, and they believe this establishes the validity of market-based approaches.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment provides college-level readers with a fine survey of world water management, trends, and the social, economic and political issues affecting them. Many collections address the topic of declining water resources around the world: this volume argues for the forces of economic influence that can alter the equation of scarcity…. Highly recommended for any college-level collection.”

California Bookwatch

“We cannot walk away from the threats to water quantity and quality that the authors of the chapters in this book lay out clearly—as well as analyzing many of the institutional arrangements that academics and policy makers are contemplating. While it is not fun to read about these severe problems, we must face up to them and this book does so clearly and with substantial depth.”

—Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate in economic science; Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and co-director, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University; founding director, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University

“Aquanomics provides clear and crucial understanding of the steps that must be taken to bring discipline to public policies about a misunderstood resource . . . Aquanomics reveals the enormous ecological and economic benefits of bringing property rights to water. As with any other resource, if people own water it will be protected.”

—Roger E. Meiners, John and Judy Goolsby Distinguished Professor of Economics and Law, University of Texas at Arlington

“The authors discuss and illustrate with case studies the economic and political transaction costs of water transfers, and suggest ways to overcome the impediments. This book is essential reading for those wishing to understand water markets and advance more sensible public policies.”

—Lee J. Alston, professor and director of the Institutions Program, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado

“The strength of the volume is that the authors are united in trying to explain how much of the present waste and misallocation could be prevented by replacing myriad federal and state regulations with markets. While the authors’ diagnoses and remedies are not all the same, most of them are based on data and make strong cases.”

—Anthony Scott, University of Toronto

Aquanomics is wide ranging and the authors are first-rate scholars. It is a timely volume about our most critical natural resource—water.”

—Gary D. Libecap, Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Corporate Environmental Management, University of California, Irvine

“The book provides both a theoretical and historical background, and a wide range of examples that illustrate the usefulness as well as the problems of market approaches to environmental concerns… The book is readable, relevant, and often provocative. Well worth adding to your library and your syllabus.”

—Joel Hamilton, University of Idaho

“[A]lways thoughtful, well documented, and informative…It will be useful to those in academics, research, and policy development.”

—Norman K. Whittlesey, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Washington State University

“As Aquanomics shows, economically and environmentally sound water management is possible, but only if policymakers get the institutions right.”

—Jonathan H. Adler, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Business Law & Regulation, Case Western Reserve University

“The superb work in Aquanomics represents an important step toward understanding those institutions, drawing on history, economics, and law to show how water institutions actually work.”

—Andrew P. Morriss, D. Paul Jones, Jr. & Charlene A. Jones Chairholder in Law and Professor of Business, University of Alabama

“With contributions from experts in policy, law, property rights, and economics, Aquanomics brings together a diversity of perspectives, all focused on an issue of singular importance: understanding and improving our institutions for allocating water. This book is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand what went wrong and what can still go right with water policy in America.”

—H. Spencer Banzhaf, Georgia State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412846981
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 0
  • Pages: 456
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

B. Delworth Gardner is research fellow at the Independent Institute, emeritus professor of economics at Brigham Young University, and emeritus professor of agricultural economics at University of California, Davis. His books include Regional Growth and Water Resource Investment, Plowing Ground in Washington: The Political Economy of U.S. Agriculture, and Pricing and Efficient Allocation of Irrigation Water in California.

Randy T. Simmons is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics and director of the Institute of Political Economy at Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, research fellow at the Independent Institute, and mayor of Providence, Utah. Some of his books include The Political Economy of Culture and Norms: Informal Solutions to the Commons Problem and Re-Thinking Green: Alternatives to Environmental Bureaucracy.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction B. Delworth Gardner Randy T. Simmons 1

2 Markets for Freshwater Ecosystem Services Martin W. Doyle Todd BenDor 17

3 Water Quality Markets: Institutional Design and Performance Jeffrey M. Peterson Craig M. Smith 43

4 Buying Water for the Environment Brandon Scarborough 75

5 Auctions of Water Rights Ray Hartwell Bruce Aylward 107

6 Transactions Costs and Water Markets: The Anticommons Perspective Stephen N. Bretsen Peter J. Hill 143

7 The Evolving Public Trust Doctrine: An Obstacle to Water Marketing James L. Huffman 183

8 Market-like Water Quality Trading: Why It Matters, and How to Make It Happen Leonard Shabman Kurt Stephenson 209

9 The Economic Effects of Using Property Taxes in Lieu of Direct User Fees to Pay for Water B. Delworth Gardner 225

10 The Economics of Dam Decommissioning for Ecosystem Restoration: Making Informed Decisions to Remove Aging U. S. Dams Pearl Q. Zheng Benjamin F. Hobbs Joseph F. Koonce 247

11 The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Political Economy of California Water Allocation Rachael E. Goodhue Susan Stratton Sayre Leo K. Simon 281

12 Lessons from Los Angeles: Dealing with Diminishing Predictability in Los Angeles Water Sources Brian C. Steed 321

13 Dams, Water Rights, and Market Transfers in California Richard W. Wahl 353

About the Authors 379

Index 387

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