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Optimal and Sustainable Groundwater Extraction


  • James Roumasset

    () (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Christopher Wada

    () (University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa)


With the specter of climate change, groundwater scarcity looms as an increasingly critical issue worldwide. Minimizing the adverse effects of scarcity requires optimal as well as sustainable patterns of groundwater management. We review the many sustainable paths for groundwater extraction from a coastal aquifer and show how to find the particular sustainable path that is optimal. In some cases the optimal path converges to the maximum sustainable yield. For sufficiently convex extraction costs, the extraction path converges to an internal steady state above the level of maximum sustainable yield. We describe the challenges facing groundwater managers faced with multiple aquifers, the prospect of using recycled water, and the interdependence with watershed management. The integrated water management thus described results in less water scarcity and higher total welfare gains from groundwater use. The framework also can be applied to climate- change specifications about the frequency, duration, and intensity of precipitation by comparing before and after optimal management. For the case of South Oahu in Hawaii, the prospect of climate change increases the gains of integrated groundwater management.

Suggested Citation

  • James Roumasset & Christopher Wada, 2010. "Optimal and Sustainable Groundwater Extraction," Working Papers 2010-09, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • Handle: RePEc:hae:wpaper:2010-09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimberly M. Burnett & James A. Roumasset & Arsenio M. Balisacan, 2010. "Sustainability Science for Watershed Landscapes," Books on Agricultural Research and Development, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), number 2010:3, January -.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wada, Christopher A & Burnett, Kimberly & Gurdak, Jason J, 2016. "Sustainable Agriculture Irrigation Management: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Pajaro Valley, California," Sustainable Agriculture Research, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 5(3).
    2. Encarna Esteban & Ariel Dinar, 2013. "Cooperative Management of Groundwater Resources in the Presence of Environmental Externalities," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(3), pages 443-469, March.
    3. Pongkijvorasin, Sittidaj & Burnett, Kimberly & Wada, Christopher, 2018. "Joint Management of an Interconnected Coastal Aquifer and Invasive Tree," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 125-135.
    4. Ye-Shuang Xu & Shui-Long Shen & Dong-Jie Ren & Huai-Na Wu, 2016. "Analysis of Factors in Land Subsidence in Shanghai: A View Based on a Strategic Environmental Assessment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-12, June.
    5. Karl Jandoc & Ruben Juarez & James Roumasset, 2014. "Towards an Economics of Irrigation Networks," Working Papers 201416, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    6. Veith Becker & Anssi Myrttinen & Johannes A.C. Barth & Peter Bayer, 2011. "A Summary on the Special Issue “Sustainability of Groundwater”," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(10), pages 1-4, October.
    7. Susan Randolph & Patrick Guyer, 2011. "Tracking the Historical Evolution of States' Compliance with their Economics and Social Rights Obligations of Result: Insights from the Historical SERF Index," Economic Rights Working Papers 18, University of Connecticut, Human Rights Institute.

    More about this item


    sustainability science; groundwater economics; dynamic optimization;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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