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ABSTRACF: Examination of a series of studies of the economically efficient water allocations in the Upper Colorado River, Yellowstone River, and Great Basins indicate that water is not a serious general physical constraint on the development of energy resources, so long as public institutions do not hinder the exchange of water rights in markets. Energy development will cause limited impacts on other water-using sectors, principally agriculture. There appears to be little reason to develop large-scale water storage facilities, even during periods of reduced water production. Water storage developments appear to be necessary only when institutional constraints severely restrict water rights markets and transfers.
This paper presents an analysis of the effects of different institutional arrangements and economic environments on water markets. Characteristics of water rights transfers in the South Platte Basin of Colorado and transfers of shares of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD) are compared to show how different institutional arrangements can affect the types and size distributions of transfers. The characteristics of water rights transfers in the prosperous South Platte are then compared with water rights transfer characteristics in the economically marginal Arkansas River basin of Colorado to identify the effects of different economic environments. Finally, the economic losses from reductions in...
Construction of major dam projects in the Western States requires a re-examination of Indian water rights. Roughly analogous to the nineteenth century problem of Indian land rights, the twentieth century issue of Indian water rights has shifted from water ownership to its best use. Conflicts exist between the western water law of prior appropriation and the Indian rights to the water. The United States Supreme Court addressed the issue in Winters v. United States by holding that the Indian rights controlled over state law. However, the standard for measuring the quantity of water reserved to the Indians was not determined, subsequently causing much conflict. Although the Winters doctrine grants rights to the American...