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Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms

Author

Listed:
  • Jedidiah Brewer
  • Robert Glennon
  • Alan Ker
  • Gary Libecap

    ()

Abstract

Rising urban and environmental demand for water has created growing pressure to re-allocate water from traditional agricultural uses. The evolution of water markets has been more complicated than those for other resources. In this paper, we first explain these differences by examining water rights and regulatory issues. Second, we place our research in the context of the economics literature on water marketing. Third, we present new, comprehensive data on prices and the extent, nature, and timing of water transfers across 12 western states from 1987- 2005. We find that prices are higher for agriculture-to- urban trades versus within-agriculture trades, in part, reflecting the differences in marginal values between the two uses. Prices for urban use are also growing relative to agricultural use. Markets are responding in that the number of agriculture-to-urban transactions is rising, whereas the number of agriculture-to-agriculture transfers is not. Further, there is a shift from using short-term leases to using multi- year leases of water and permanent sales of water rights. This pattern underscores the need to consider the amounts of water obligated over time, rather than examining only annual flows in assessing the quantities of water traded as is the common practice in the literature. Considering water obligated over time, termed committed water, we find significantly more is transferred and the direction of trading is different than if the focus is on annual flows. Finally, the data reveal considerable variation in water trading across the states.

Suggested Citation

  • Jedidiah Brewer & Robert Glennon & Alan Ker & Gary Libecap, 2007. "Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms," ICER Working Papers 30-2007, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:icr:wpicer:30-2007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Howitt, Richard E. & Hansen, Kristiana, 2005. "The Evolving Western Water Markets," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 20(1).
    2. Young, Robert A. & Haveman, Robert H., 1985. "Economics of water resources: a survey," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics,in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 11, pages 465-529 Elsevier.
    3. Johnson, Ronald N & Gisser, Micha, 1981. "The Definition of a Surface Water Right and Transferability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 273-288, October.
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    5. Robert A. Young, 1986. "Why Are There So Few Transactions among Water Users?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 68(5), pages 1143-1151.
    6. Alberta H. Charney & Gary C. Woodard, 1990. "Socioeconomic Impacts of Water Farming on Rural Areas of Origin in Arizona," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1193-1199.
    7. Hansen, Kristiana & Howitt, Richard E. & Williams, Jeffrey C., 2005. "An Econometric Test of the Endogeneity of Institutions: Water Markets in the Western United States," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19548, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    8. Marie Leigh Livingston & Thomas A. Miller, 1986. "A Framework for Analyzing the Impact of Western Instream Water Rights on Choice Domains: Transferability, Externalities, and Consumptive Use," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 62(3), pages 269-277.
    9. Bill Provencher, 1993. "A Private Property Rights Regime to Replenish a Groundwater Aquifer," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 69(4), pages 325-340.
    10. Provencher Bill & Burt Oscar, 1993. "The Externalities Associated with the Common Property Exploitation of Groundwater," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 139-158, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Quentin Grafton & Clay Landry & Gary Libecap & Sam McGlennon & Bob O'Brien, 2010. "An Integrated Assessment of Water Markets: Australia, Chile, China, South Africa and the USA," Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy Papers 1009, Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    2. Ji, Xinde & Cobourn, Kelly M., 2017. "The Economic Benefits of Irrigation Districts under Prior Appropriation Doctrine: An Econometric Analysis of Agricultural Land-allocation Decisions," 2017 Annual Meeting, February 4-7, 2017, Mobile, Alabama 252838, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    3. James H. Skurray & Ram Pandit & David J. Pannell, 2013. "Institutional impediments to groundwater trading: the case of the Gnangara groundwater system of Western Australia," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(7), pages 1046-1072, September.
    4. Eric C. Edwards & Oscar Cristi & Gonzalo Edwards & Gary D. Libecap, 2016. "An Illiquid Market in the Desert: Estimating the Cost of Water Trade Restrictions in Northern Chile," NBER Working Papers 21869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Grafton, R. Quentin & Landry, Clay & Libecap, Gary D. & O’Brien, R.J. (Bob), 2009. "Water Markets and Scarcity: Australia’s Murray Darling Basin and the US Southwest," Research Reports 94943, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
    6. Michele Benvenuti & Elena Gennari, 2008. "Water services in Italy: implementation of the reform and efficiency of providers," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 23, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Gary D. Libecap, 2010. "Institutional Path Dependence in Climate Adaptation: Coman's "Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation"," NBER Working Papers 16324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gonzalo Edwards & Oscar Cristi & Carlos Díaz, 2012. "The Effect of Regulation Uncertainty on Water-Right Prices: The Case of the Loa Basin in the Antofagasta Region of Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 421, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
    9. Gary D. Libecap & R. Quentin Grafton & Clay Landry & J.R. O’Brien, 2009. "Markets - Water Markets: Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin and the US Southwest," ICER Working Papers 15-2009, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    10. Sheila M. Olmstead, 2010. "The Economics of Managing Scarce Water Resources," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(2), pages 179-198, Summer.
    11. Johannus Janmaat, 2011. "Water Markets, Licenses, and Conservation: Some Implications," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 87(1), pages 145-159.
    12. Gary D. Libecap, 2010. "Institutional Path Dependence in Climate Adaptation: Coman’s “Some Unsettled Problems of Irrigation”," ICER Working Papers 33-2010, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    13. Scheierling, Susanne M., 2011. "Assessing the direct economic effects of reallocating irrigation water to alternative uses : concepts and an application," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5797, The World Bank.
    14. Gary D. Libecap, 2010. "Water Rights and Markets in the U.S. Semi Arid West: Efficiency and Equity Issues," ICER Working Papers 30-2010, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    15. Debaere, Peter, 2012. "The Global Economics of Water: Is Water A Source of Comparative Advantage?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9030, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • Q21 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q27 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Issues in International Trade
    • 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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