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INNOVATIONS IN GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT: SMART MARKETS FOR TRANSFERABLE GROUNDWATER EXTRACTION RIGHTS

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While no national policy on groundwater use exists in the US, local groundwater management is emerging across the country in response to concerns and conflicts over declining well yields, land subsidence, and the depletion of hydrologically connected surface waters. Management strategies include well-drilling moratoria, pumping restrictions, and restrictions on the expansion of irrigated land. To provide flexibility to groundwater users, local regulatory authorities increasingly have begun to allow the transfer of groundwater rights as a cost-effective management tool. For example, active groundwater rights transfers exist in the High Plains region of the US. Since most groundwater pumped in the High Plains region is used for irrigation, the transfers of use rights are predominantly between agricultural producers. Yet several barriers to trade exist: high search costs for interested parties, complicated requirements for regulatory compliance, and reluctance to share sensitive financial information. We discuss how “smart” markets address these needs and encourage more active trading, thereby ensuring local goals for aquifer sustainability while growing local economies.
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Keywords: Environmental economics; Groundwater management; Smart markets; Tradable permit systems; Water markets

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 08 March 2016

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