1st Edition

Water And Agriculture In The Western U.S. Conservation, Reallocation, And Markets

By Gary Weatherford Copyright 1982

    One of the major questions facing the western U.S. is whether irrigation water can be conserved and reallocated to help meet increasing nonagricultural water demands. This book, based on interdisciplinary research in several states, identifies and analyzes the legal, political, economic, and social issues involved in a "conserve-and transfer" strategy. After providing an overview and policy framework for considering the role of conservation in water management, the authors use case studies to illustrate, for example, why water conservation is not a neutral policy or principle (demonstrating how other legitimate values can be adversely affected by a single-purpose pursuit of conservation); the various options available for conservation; how reallocation occurs in market transactions; and the legal restrictions on the sale of conserved surplus water.

    Although formal market mechanisms are found to be rudimentary or lacking in most areas of the West, the authors contend that more proficient markets will evolve to measure the economic value of agricultural water. They conclude that a "conserve-and-transfer" strategy is selectively workable through the use of incentives, but that a number of tradeoffs, social concerns, and institutional constraints, which have not been adequately recognized to date, will have to be dealt with by policymakers if the strategy is to have wider application.

    Foreword -- Preface -- Thematic Overview of the Conserve-and-Transfer Strategy of Water Management -- Institutional Framework for Agricultural Water Conservation and Reallocation in the West: A Policy Analysis -- Introduction and Context -- Variety, Diversity, and Complexity -- Opportunities for Water Conservation -- Institutional Arrangements by the State, Regional and National Levels -- Conclusions -- Factors Underlying Irrigation Efficiency in the Tulare Basin of California -- Introduction -- Water Use Efficiency in Concept and in Context -- Policies and Programs of State and Federal Agencies -- Perceptions and Practices of Farmers, Water Districts and Technical Advisors -- Conclusions and Recommendations -- The Navajo Indian Irrigation Project: A Study of Legal, Political, and Cultural Conflict -- A Willingness to Play: Analysis of Water Resources Development in Arizona -- Introduction -- Rules of the Game -- Physical Description of the Central Arizona Project -- Political Background of the CAP -- Water Economics on the Farm -- Farmers' Attitudes About the Central Arizona Project: 1979 -- Conclusions -- Water Reallocation, Market Proficiency, and Conflicting Social Values -- Water Reallocation– The Public Environment -- Market Proficiency -- Legal Restrictions on the Sale of Conserved Surplus -- Conflicting Values: Arizona -- Conflicting Values: New Mexico -- Conflicting Values: Colorado -- Conflicting Values: Utah -- Summary and Conclusions -- Market Proficiency Questionnaire


    Gary Weatherford is director of the Water Program at the Center for Natural Resource Studies of the John Muir Institute. Lee Brown is associate professor of economics at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Helen Ingram is professor of government at the University of Arizona. Dean Mann is professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.