Water Markets: Australia's Murray-Darling Basin and the Us Southwest

37 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2012 Last revised: 3 May 2014

See all articles by Quentin Grafton

Quentin Grafton

The Australian National University

Clay Landry

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gary D. Libecap

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - 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

R. J. O'Brien

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 2010

Abstract

Fresh water supplies increasingly are under stress in many parts of the world due to rising populations, higher per capita incomes and corresponding consumption, greater environmental concerns, and the effects of climate change. Water rights and markets are part of the institutional menus for responding to these problems. We examine water markets in both Australia's MDB and the western US and their prospects for addressing water scarcity. The two regions share a number of important similarities including: climate variability that requires investment in reservoirs to make water available in low-rainfall periods; the need for internal and cross-border (state) water management; an historical major allocation of water to irrigators; increasing competition among different uses (agricultural, environmental and recreational in situ uses, urban demand); and the potential for water trading to more smoothly and quickly allocate water across these competing uses. A comparison of the two regions provides important insights about how economic factors can encourage more efficient water allocation, market structure and government regulation. We show that rights are more clearly defined and trading more common in Australia than appears to be the case in the western U.S. Longer periods of scarcity and hence, higher water values may explain this difference.

Suggested Citation

Grafton, Quentin and Landry, Clay and Libecap, Gary D. and O'Brien, R. J., Water Markets: Australia's Murray-Darling Basin and the Us Southwest (March 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15797. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2139264

Quentin Grafton (Contact Author)

The Australian National University ( email )

Crawford School (Bldg 132)
The ANU
Acton, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://https://crawford.anu.edu.au/people/academic/quentin-grafton

Clay Landry

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Gary D. Libecap

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - 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

R. J. O'Brien

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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