Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=977413
 
 

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


Jedidiah Brewer


University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Robert Glennon


University of Arizona - Rogers College of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Alan P. Ker


University of Arizona - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Gary D. Libecap


University of California, Santa Barbara - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

March 2007

NBER Working Paper No. w13002

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.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

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Date posted: April 6, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Brewer, Jedidiah and Glennon, Robert and Ker, Alan P. and Libecap, Gary D., Water Markets in the West: Prices, Trading, and Contractual Forms (March 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=977413

Contact Information

Jedidiah Brewer
University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )
McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
Robert Glennon
University of Arizona - Rogers College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

Alan P. Ker
University of Arizona - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )
1110 E. North Campus Drive
Tucson, AZ 85721-0023
United States
(520) 621-6265 (Phone)
Gary D. Libecap (Contact Author)
University of California, Santa Barbara - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )
4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States
805-893-8611 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.esm.ucsb.edu/people/usernew.asp?user=glibecap
University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center ( email )
McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4821 (Phone)
520-626-5269 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.bpa.arizona.edu/~libecap
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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