The Myth of Owens Valley

8 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2005

See all articles by Gary D. Libecap

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

Abstract

In current discussions of western water policy, the early-20th century water deal between Los Angeles and landholders in Owens Valley, Calif., plays a prominent and decidedly negative role. It is used as a metaphor by opponents of water reallocations to demonstrate all that can go wrong with water markets. The allegations are that Owens Valley water was stolen from farmers by a rapacious Los Angeles and, once it was shipped out of the valley through the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the agricultural economy was ruined and the valley was left a wasteland. Unfortunately for the development of water markets and the smooth reallocation of water, the story is wrong. The water was neither stolen nor was the farm economy left in ruins.

Keywords: Owens Valley, water policy, water deal, water reallocation, water markets, Los Angeles Aqueduct, agricultural economy, farm economy

JEL Classification: Q15, Q32

Suggested Citation

Libecap, Gary D., The Myth of Owens Valley. Regulation, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 10-17, Summer 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=762331

Gary D. Libecap (Contact Author)

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

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
134
Abstract Views
1,709
rank
229,705
PlumX Metrics