Mandates vs markets: addressing over-allocation of Pacific Northwest River Basins

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Water has always been the key element of human development, quality of life, and transportation in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). While seemingly abundant when irrigation was first developed in the 19th Century, today many PNW rivers are fully allocated, leading to conflict in times of drought, a situation which may be exacerbated by the effects of climate change. In the PNW, water is managed by an array of Federal, State, and non-governmental entities, each with its own perspective and mission. This paper discusses the relative merits of solutions based on supporting market mechanisms through improved definition of water rights on the one hand, and authoritative mandates on the other.

Keywords: Climate change, Drought, Hydroelectric, Mandate, Salmon, Water allocation, Water marketing, Water right

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