December 2022

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2006

Favorite Blogs

  • Authentically Wired
    Water and a lot more from Paul F. Miller.
  • AWRA
    The water resources blog of the American Water Resources Association.
  • Blue Marble Earth
    An articulate Earth scientist with an MS in Geography from Oregon State University, Courtney van Stolk explores the 'whys' of this fantastic planet.
  • California Water Blog
    A biologist, economist, engineer and geologist walk onto a bar…From the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC-Davis.
  • Campanastan
    That's 'Campana-stan', or 'Place of Campana', formerly 'Aquablog'. Michael Campana's personal blog, promulgating his Weltanschauung.
  • Chance of Rain
    Journalist Emily Green's take on water and related issues.
  • Dr. Anne Jefferson's Watershed Hydrology Lab
    Anne blogs from Kent State University on a variety of earth science topics.
  • Great Lakes Law
    Noah Hall's blog about - what else - all things wet and legal in the Great Lakes region!
  • International Water Law Project
    Gabriel Eckstein, Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law, comments on international and transboundary water law and policy.
  • John Fleck
    Former science writer @ Albuquerque Journal and current director of the Water Resources Program at U of NM. Topics: Colorado River basin, Western USA water, more!
  • Legal Planet: Environmental Law and Policy
    From the UC-Berkeley and UCLA law schools, it highlights the latest legal and policy initiatives and examines their implications.
  • Maven's Notebook
    A water, science, and environmental policy blog by Chris Austin, aka 'Maven'. Focus is on California.
  • On The Public Record
    A 'low level civil servant who reads a lot of government reports writes about California water and related topics.
  • Wettit - the water reddit
    Water blog with tons of news items, other blogs, etc.
  • Texas Agriculture Law Blog
    Don't let the name fool you - there are lots of water issues in agriculture and Tiffany Dowell of Texas A&M University does a fabulous job with this important Internet resource. Give it a read - I do every day!
  • The Water Blog
    From the Portland, OR, Water Bureau.
  • The Way of Water
    Dr. Jennifer Veilleux records her fieldwork, research, and thoughts about water resources development and management, indigenous rights, ethics, and a host of other issues.
  • Thirsty in Suburbia
    Gayle Leonard documents things from the world of water that make us smile: particularly funny, amusing and weird items on bottled water, water towers, water marketing, recycling, the art-water nexus and working.
  • This Day in Water History
    Michael J. 'Mike' McGuire, engineer extraordinaire, NAE member, and author of 'The Chlorine Revolution', blogs about historical happenings in the fields of drinking water and wastewater keyed to calendar dates.
  • WaSH Resources
    New publications, web sites and multi-media on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).
  • Waste, Water, Whatever
    Elizabeth Royte's ('Bottlemania', 'Garbage Land') notes on waste, water, whatever.
  • Water Matters
    News from the Columbia University Water Center.
  • Watershed Moments: Thoughts from the Hydrosphere
    From Sarah Boon - rediscovering her writing and editing roots after 13 years, primarily as an environmental scientist. Her writing centres around creative non-fiction, specifically memoir and nature writing. The landscapes of western Canada are her main inspiration.
  • WaterWired
    All things freshwater: news, comment, publications and analysis from hydrogeologist Michael E. Campana, Professor at Oregon State University and Technical Director of the AWRA.

« Mulroy Channels Monty: 'Hey, Utah, Let's Make a Deal!' | Main | Colorado River Basin Blues: The FUG Collection »

Saturday, 01 May 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

chris corbin

I'm not an economist, but I'm jumping on Zetland's bandwagon -at least part of it.

1. quantify rights (doesn't have to be adjudication).
2. require to mitigation or aquifer recharge for new groundwater development.
3. trade, trade, trade.


In that regard, some states have already modified their laws specifically to address groundwater marketing. For instance, California makes groundwater transfers/marketing difficult but not outlawed. Remaining states should look at California for ideas about what can be done and improved upon. California is not perfect or the best example but its legislature has definitely debated and addressed the issues mentioned in the paper. In addition, the Public Trust Doctrine may still protect groundwater in some states or in specific areas where groundwater withdrawals will affect public resources.

California law, at least theoretically, provides the necessary tools that would allow for groundwater marketing. As mentioned in the law review note, California Common Law (created by courts) follows the correlative rights doctrine. In essence, water may be exported out of a particular county when the groundwater aquifer has surplus water and when the appropriator has senior rights relative to other water users. The legislature has implicitly, perhaps even explicitly, approved of this doctrine and has effectively given counties that overlay an aquifer veto rights. State law provides that a county can prohibit groundwater transfers beyond the groundwater basin/aquifer/county. The law is based on old common law created by the California Supreme Court in 1933. “[C]onservation of subterranean waters” is a legitimate exercise of the police powers. In re Maas, 219 Cal. 422 (1933).

California can be divided into two segments based on groundwater management. The first is the adjudicated part, such as the L.A. region, where cities, other agencies, and even some private companies have adjudicated their rights to groundwater and closely manage withdrawals. They also regularly recharge the aquifers to maintain a permanent reservoir to utilize when needed and keep the seawater at bay. In the second segment of California, such as the Central Valley, overdraft is the norm and things more closely resemble Texas than areas of California with adjudicated groundwater. Clearly, situations like in the first segment would provide an opportunity for groundwater marketing. Unfortunately, the water is most needed in the majority of areas with adjudicated groundwater rights so little water transfers will come from those areas. As such, any significant water transfers will come from the second segment. Places where water is relatively plentiful, such as the Sacramento Valley, could adjudicate their groundwater rights, adding surplus water into the aquifer when available, and selling off some water during dry years. On the other hand, areas of overdraft will likely never have an opportunity for groundwater marketing.

As for the Public Trust Doctrine, it is applied differently in the various states. Some states do not accept it at all. That's likely why the author says it won't be used in a majority of states. The Public Trust Doctrine is tantamount to a nuclear option for courts. They generally use it as a last resort when other laws do not offer protection or the outcome would otherwise seem unfair. The failure of a legislature to do its job and/or address a need is generally when you see the doctrine used. You can bet that California (and other states of that bent) will likely see its use, at least by lower courts, if correlative rights do not apply. The Public Trust Doctrine will also be used to protect various public resources that clearly do rely on subterranean waters or a high groundwater table. For example, Devils Hole and its pupfish. I do not doubt the Michigan courts would use the Public Trust Doctrine if other laws are not at its disposal and the court feels the state is truly threatened by large scale groundwater pumping operations that significantly affects the high water table.


I disagree to some extent with the law review note. He paints a broad brush assuming all states are backwards like Texas and tries to make a complex issue seem more cut and dry than it ever can be. It is also clear he has not lived out West or considered it from our perspective. Otherwise, he would not consider our laws quaint with little modern relevance or relationship with our actual needs.

"In general, groundwater marketing is only legal where the law permits off-tract use—an old distinction that bears no relationship to the policy issues that must be raised by state legislatures to seriously address upcoming severe water shortages."

To the contrary, off-tract use of groundwater is highly relevant to the policy issues that legislatures need to debate. This is especially true in areas that already have water shortages. Off-tract use affects local users, their environment, and may encourage subsidence if not controlled. Each issue is highly relevant to any discussion about groundwater transfers/marketing.

David Zetland

Yes, we're here -- the economists -- and we have the solution to your problem. It's NOT lawsuits. It's either:
1) Self regulation by ALL overlying property owners;
2) Taxes on withdrawal to stabilize water tables; or
3) Quantification (adjudication) of individual rights.

After that "cap" you can trade.

I'll link from aguanomics too :)

Eric Perramond

Fab-u-lous post MC, will link to this soon. I view this as the hydrological equivalent to trading derivatives (secretive, invisible, unregulated) in many ways - perhaps a poor analogy, but...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)



  • Visitors
Geology Site that Rocks!
Featured in Alltop
proudly awards
this site as
Recommended Reading
Please vote for it
in the community!

Vote for us!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Find the best blogs at

WWW sites