River-Basin Water Management in the U.S.: A Regulatory Anticommons
31 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2010 Last revised: 10 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 9, 2012
Many demands are currently made on the United States’ limited water resources, including use for irrigation, recreation, hydropower, municipal use, and instream maintenance. This large set of demands poses a problem because supply is essentially stagnant. Looking forward, this situation of water resource scarcity is only projected to worsen as climate change effects and continued population growth are added to the mix. Given this acute state of affairs, I conduct an assessment of river-basin water regulation in the United States in the hopes of shedding light on whether the current approach is adequate to changing circumstances, or if reform is needed. Using small scale hydropower permitting as the context, this paper argues that reform is essential because river-basin water regulation in the United States today is subject to a decentralized and inefficient management style termed a “regulatory anticommons.” Solutions to the anticommons problem are suggested, including structural, organizational, and legislative-based regulatory reform.
Keywords: anticommons, water, oligopoly, energy, hydropower
JEL Classification: H1, K0, Q2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation