I have never believed that the threat of “Use it or lose it” ever motivated a grower. Our water rights system has been unenforced for decades (until now, really). Have growers really thought that the State Water Resources Control Board is keeping track of their yearly diversions, ready to pounce on a missed irrigation year or a decreased diversion amount? Until 2009, there was no penalty for not submitting the Annual Statement of Diversion and Use. I’d be surprised to hear of a water right being yanked for being two decades dormant. I don’t know but strongly suspect that a water right would be allowed to come back into compliance before it was “lost”. Plus, conserving water and selling water are now both beneficial uses. For all the talk about “use it or lose it”, I don’t think the doctrine genuinely hampers water transfers.
(So why does it keep coming up? My guess is that growers love to talk about government regulation contradicting its intent. The Alanis Morrisette-level irony overwhelms them. Of course I don’t know their inner thoughts, but I’d bet they mention it to Australian visitors much more often than they consider it in their water use decisions.)
All that aside: sure, whatever. This section looks good to me.
The paragraph distinguishing irrigation efficiency from economic efficiency is nice, although I will say for the severalth time that flood irrigation methods are not inherently inefficient. They can be managed well. (One of my irrigation professors described poor irrigation practices, then dismissed them entirely with “That’s not irrigation. That’s water spreading.” Perhaps the author of this paper was using “spreading” the same way.)
Again, I wonder how this recordkeeping scales up to California. How would we track an individual right’s annual carryover? This would mean tracking the diversion and also designating some water back up in the reservoir as that individual’s? But there are so many diversions and so many sources.
I didn’t understand the phenomenon described here:
The importance of allowing market-driven carrying forward of unused water allocations was driven home during the early stages of developing Australia’s water trading systems, when it was discovered that all the gains from trade in some parts of the country were being lost because too little water was being carried forward. Trading was deepening rather than reducing the impacts of drought. When the policy was changed to allow water to be carried forward to the next year, the price of allocations doubled, that is, the value of water increased dramatically.
If you do understand, could you please tell me what was happening?
The warning against making allocations before the precip actually falls and is captured is good, but cannot be reconciled with making allocations early in the year so farmers can make planting decisions. In California at least, it is either/or.