Are any of you interested in reading this proposal to convert western water rights to Australian-style water rights with me?
It is admirably clear and well written. I have quite a bit to say about it, both pros and cons. It’d be easier to chunk it out and discuss it with others, if you are up for it. I could see this being real dull for laypeople. It’d give me lots of blog fodder. Are you interested? Will you read along and comment? Authors, if we do this, would you please stop by to answer our questions?
I have read the paper once. Here are my first impressions, before I try to understand it closely.
- This is very profoundly a rights structure and a process blueprint that maintains current power and wealth distributions. I am not surprised that Australia managed to convert to this, because it privileges and benefits existing power holders.
- It doesn’t give an explicit definition of success. By implication, I understand success to be increased economic development (pg 6, p3) or minimized losses to gross ag value (pg 7, p2).
- There is a lot of real nice cleverness in here, presumably gained from experience.
- Doing this would require infrastructure investment that would help a whole lot no matter what water rights reform we adopt. If we could do real-time metering of every water use and see that all show up on centralized online water rights accounts, we’d be in a new world of water management regardless of water rights structure.
- If conversion to these rights is so profitable to the winners of the share/allocation trading scheme, why are we issuing grants to initiate the metering and account building/water resource sharing plan (pg 27, p1). Why is this all on the State dollar? Why isn’t this a loan from the state, to be recouped out of future trading profits?
- The water resource sharing plans (pg 12) look a lot like a water transfer programmatic EIS, which has proved an impossibility for the State for twenty years, despite considerable motivation. From here, I can’t see how a process that includes third parties could develop these water resource sharing plans. Not given the way they shut down later legal redress.
- The effort involved in developing water resource sharing plans strikes me as non-scaleable. For every basin here? For the projects? Hoo boy.
- Nevada should totally try this and let us watch. No one cares what happens there, so there’s nothing to lose.
If this list made you kinda tingly and intrigued, please say you’ll join the book club. This is a real proposal, clearly and carefully made. Given the love for Australia we see again and again, it’d be good to understand it thoroughly.