Stopping The Drain: Third-Party Resistance To Water Marketing In California
Growth of the water market since the early 1990s has generated controversy in California's source regions over two types of transfers - those drawing on native groundwater reserves and those resulting from crop idling. Given incomplete state-level protections for third parties who may suffer adverse effects of water sales, local authorities have responded with their own measures. In particular, many rural counties have adopted ordinances restricting groundwater exports. Some communities have restricted farmers' right to fallow land for the market. Original data on water market flows and local ordinances are used to analyze the impact of county trade restrictions on water sales and water exports. County ordinances have reduced water exports by nearly20 percent and water sales by nearly 15 percent since the mid 1990s and have shifted some exports to local buyers. Several policy options are available for mitigating third-party effects in less trade-restrictive ways. For groundwater protection, a more efficient solution lies in the establishment of local groundwater management systems. Recent test cases will provide useful guidance on the practical difficulties of implementing a transfer tax to compensate communities for the impacts of fallowing.
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