You guys know I’m not really going to return to that last post and write it up elegantly, right?
Honestly, the only decent use I can see for water markets is in-basin cap-and-trade systems for getting to sustainable groundwater use. The locals will put cap-and-trade in place themselves in their Groundwater Sustainability Plans, because it will feel all “free-market” manly to them and obscures the real outcomes. If it sucks after that, and growers realize that it forces the less-rich out of farming no less than power politics would have, I’ll have no sympathy, because self-inflicted. I’ve warned them as clearly as I can.
To be clear: the land retirement that is necessary to bring basins into sustainability will happen no matter what. Growers in severely overdrafted basins should be thinking about their exit terms. It may be that money from a cap-and-trade system is good enough, although these farmers didn’t think so afterward. But if there are other, non-monetary exit terms that would make the transition feel better (possibly in addition to money), a water market of any kind won’t provide those.