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Market Solution for our Water Wars

If water allocation is left to the legislatures and courts, rather than the marketplace, shortages will persist.

By Terry Anderson and Gary Liebcap

In the United States, water wars between states and between users are in full swing.

In 2001, the federal government cut water supplies to 1,400 farms in Oregon’s Klamath River basin to protect endangered suckerfish and Coho salmon. Thousands of people affected by the decision rallied to support farmers by creating a bucket brigade to carry water to their dry irrigation canal. similarly, in 2009, the Bureau of Reclamation cut off water to farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley, drying up as many as 75,000 acres at a cost of approximately $350 million in lost agricultural production. A drought in 2008 -09 in the southeastern United States pitted Atlanta with its burgeoning populating against Florida and Alabama for control of water supplies. Such conflicts have led businessman T. Boone Pickens to predict that water in "the new oil."

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