Outdoor residential water use is increasingly becoming a target for urban water conservation. As western municipalities face more restricted water supplies, water providers are paying residents to take out their lawns permanently. Current programs in Southern Nevada and Los Angeles are yielding water conservation at a cost of $65,000/AF to $87,000/AF. Continue reading
The near lack of progress in resolving the millions of acre-feet of outstanding Federal reserved water rights claims of many Native American Tribes is a significant contributor to the perilous uncertainty that plaques the water supply-demand landscape in many regions of the western United States. This uncertainty poses a formidable constraint to the proactive and comprehensive water resource plan decision-making so particularly needed in these times of prolonged drought and widespread concern over the potential adverse hydrologic impacts of climate change. It is no surprise, therefore, that stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels are ever searching for technical and political solutions to facilitate the settlement of native water rights claims as a means to jumpstart long stalled water resource development and management action. Continue reading
My earlier post on Prediction Markets discussed why prediction markets for the water industry. They are the next frontier in water markets—information markets to improve planning and decision-making in the face of uncertainty about legislative and regulatory actions, political change, hydrology, project operations, litigation outcomes and water prices. Currently, discussions of the future are often little more than unsubstantiated opinion. The water industry can do better. Continue reading
March 11, 2013 will be a historical date in Texas water when the case The Aransas Project v. Shaw brought Texas into a new era of water resources. Federal District Judge Janis Graham Jack held that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) has failed to manage the waters of the San Antonio and Guadalupe Rivers to protect the endangered whooping crane. Texas will now take the journey that California has been (unsuccessfully) traveling for decades over its own Bay-Delta. Texas learned that science, economics and politics governs modern water resource management. In court, Texas water users mostly “bet the ranch” on legal doctrine.
Water resource managers, planners, investors and other interested parties must make decisions in the face of uncertainty about a variety of factors. How many times has a professional been in a meeting where a critical future factor was unknown and the discussion was basically an exchange of unsubstantiated opinion? Would a credible quantification of the likelihood and consequence of the impact of future events facilitate better, faster and cheaper planning and decision-making? Continue reading
Resource risk management is an important element of Water Security. The changing hydrologic risk on the Colorado River provides a context to address how risk is currently allocated, how it may be reallocated, how we may reduce risk, and how we quantify risk and measure improvements in Water Security. Continue reading
The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects U.S. farm income to increase to an inflation-adjusted $110 billion (2005$) in 2013, the highest level in 40 years. The changing economics on-farm will change the economics of rural-to-urban transfers. Continue reading
The Municipal Water District of Orange County (“MWDOC”) released last month a draft Water Reliability Agreement Term Sheet outlining the terms under which it may buy 56,000 AF per year of drinking water from Poseidon Resources’ Huntington Beach Seawater Desalination Project. As with San Diego’s desalination plant in Carlsbad, another wholesale water agency in Southern California is seeking fully reliable water supplies. Continue reading
Water Transfers in the West released last December by the Western Governors Association and the Western States Water Council presents a comprehensive framework to achieve the policy goals of western governors, who passed the following policy statement in 2011:
“The Western Governors believe states should identify and promote innovative ways to allow water transfers from agricultural to other users (including urban, energy and environmental) while avoiding or mitigating damages to agricultural economies and communities.” Continue reading
Climate change received added buzz with President Obama’s second inaugural speech on January 21st. Climate change poses at least three issues for water resource management and investment:
- What is the anticipated magnitude and timing of climate change?
- Has anticipated changes already been reflected in actual hydrologic conditions?
- What does it mean and what to do about it?
For the Colorado River Basin, the issue of changing hydrologic conditions has been alive for decades and steps have already been taken. Judging by the changes in actual hydrologic conditions, the challenge is significant—especially for water users down the priority list of water rights. Continue reading