How Water Markets Can End Conflicts

A Guide for State Policymakers

By Clay J, Landry

To the Reader

Water has been an important concern in the West since the days of the Gold Rush. With today's rapidly growing populations, many western states are facing greater pressure than ever from ranchers, farmers, environmentalists and the residents of growing cities to divide water among competing interests. The century-old doctrine of prior appropriation provides the West with a useful way to allocate water through its principle A first-in-time, first-in-right. Yet over the years a growing number of legal restrictions have prevented the prior appropriation doctrine from working as well as it might. In this booklet, Clay J. Landry explains how removing a series of cumbersome restrictions and regulations would allow markets to develop that could meet the water demands of western states and end the long conflicts over western water rights.

Clay J. Landry is a research associate at PERC (the Political Economy Research Center). He has written and lectured extensively about the benefits of water markets for preserving water quality and quantity. His recent monograph, Saving Our Streams through Water Markets, available on this site as a PDF and in hard copy from PERC, provides a unique A how to guide to developing water markets.

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Clay J. Landry is a PERC Research Associate. This article is based on "Unplugging the Everglades," a chapter in Government vs. Environment, edited by Donald R. Leal and Roger E. Meiners, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield (rowmanlittlefield.com).
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