Water Allocation in Rivers under Pressure

Water Allocation in Rivers under Pressure

Water Trading, Transaction Costs and Transboundary Governance in the Western US and Australia

Dustin Evan Garrick

Water trading and river basin governance have been upheld as institutional blueprints for allocating water for people, agriculture and ecosystems in a changing climate. Progress has been uneven, however, despite multiple decades of institutional reforms in river basins under pressure from demand, development and droughts. This timely book examines the evolution and performance of water allocation reforms in the Colorado, Columbia and Murray–Darling Rivers. It draws on concepts and evidence about property rights, transaction costs and institutional change to generate lessons about the factors contributing to more adaptive and sustainable water allocation.

Chapter 5: Maturing water markets and public goods in the Murray–Darling Basin: scaling up water trading and transboundary governance

Dustin Evan Garrick

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, environmental governance and regulation, water


Afterwards he ceased to be a miner . . . but believing that he had an exclusive right to the enjoyment of the water over which he had control for a long period, he did not hesitate to sell it; and in this manner, by slow growth as it were, the claimholder was transformed into an owner of water. (R.B. Smyth, 1869 (Powell, 1989): 50, capturing the long history of water rights trading in Victoria). [T]rusts should be induced to amalgamate, so as to embrace territories remodelled on a natural basis, each, as far as possible, including the entire supply from one watershed, with one compact area of distribution. These watershed trusts should have control, under proper regulations, of the entire distribution of water within their territories. (Deakin, 1885 (Powell, 1989): 113) [M]anagement of Australia’s environment by way of its catchment systems should be strengthened. . . [T]his approach will be more cost effective and will reliably and efficiently attain the outcomes needed. (Australia Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment Heritage, 2001: 38)

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