Human Dimensions: Current Research

The Design and Use of Water Markets to Enhance Adaptation to Climate Change



As population growth, an evolving economy and climate change have brought increasing pressure to bear on water supplies in recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of water markets throughout the United States. In some states, however, the idea of allowing the market to allocate scarce water resources is anything but new. Idaho, which has the highest per capita use in the nation because of irrigated agriculture, has used the market to allocate water since 1916. As “water wars” spread from the arid West across the rest of the country and states experiment with markets to allocate an increasingly scare resource, the lessons to be learned from Idaho’s experience can be instructive. This article briefly reviews the development of Idaho’s water markets, analyzes their strengths and weaknesses, summarizes their current status and suggests changes that may be necessary to support efficient water markets

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Related Publications

For publications on the societal dimensions of climate impacts and adaptation in the PNW, please see CIG Publications.