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Mitigating a Commons Dilemma: Agricultural Water Use in the Mississippi Delta


  • Wilhelms, Steven C.
  • Coatney, Kalyn T.
  • Chaudhry, Anita M.
  • Barnes, James N.


Sustainability of the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer (MRVAA) is a growing concern for regulators and farmers alike. Currently, non-binding and unmonitored regulatory policies have not decelerated the rapid depletion of the MRVAA. As such, the State of Mississippi is facing significant challenges in developing, if necessary, future regulations to maintain water sustainability. The primary goal of this study is to investigate the potential impacts on voluntary water use restrictions and welfare resulting from credible and binding future use-limit regulations. To maintain relevance to MRVAA, we develop a novel commons extraction game accounting for heterogeneously endowed producers in regards to recharge rates and the potential for localized complete depletion. Credibility in the game is established once the majority of producers have ran out of water and are assumed to support regulation. Predictions of the game without regulation, under various strategic assumptions, are subsequently tested in laboratory experiments across various regulatory treatment policies. Treatment policies include: no regulation, limited-use, and moratorium. Preliminary results indicate, that without the extreme credible threat of moratorium, users do not significantly volunteer to reduce extraction rates. Planned replication of experiments should provide robust insights into future water levels if regulation or volunteering is not instituted.

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  • Wilhelms, Steven C. & Coatney, Kalyn T. & Chaudhry, Anita M. & Barnes, James N., 2017. "Mitigating a Commons Dilemma: Agricultural Water Use in the Mississippi Delta," 2017 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2017, Mobile, Alabama 252855, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:saea17:252855
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.252855

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    1. Madani, Kaveh & Dinar, Ariel, 2012. "Non-cooperative institutions for sustainable common pool resource management: Application to groundwater," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 34-45.
    2. Walker, James M & Gardner, Roy, 1992. "Probabilistic Destruction of Common-Pool Resources: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1149-1161, September.
    3. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    Environmental Economics and Policy; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

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