Climatic Change

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 271–290

Global Warming and Water Management: Water Allocation and Project Evaluation

  • Robert Mendelsohn
  • Lynne L. Bennett
Article

Abstract

This paper explores the sensitivity of the benefits of alternative water allocation schemes and of project evaluation to global warming. If global warming shifts the mean of annual water supplies, there could be large impacts on the expected values of alternative water allocation schemes. The first section of the paper explores how well alternative schemes (such as market mechanisms, prior rights, or percentage flows) perform if the distribution of flows changes. In a case study of the Colorado River, market mechanisms and flow guarantees result in smaller impacts than rules which allocate inefficient percentages of flows to heterogeneous users. The second part of the paper explores the effect of a gradually changing distribution of flows on project evaluations. Project evaluation is sensitive to predicted future changes in mean flows. Project evaluation is not sensitive to changes in the variance of future flows unless the variance increase is large and the benefit measure is highly curvilinear. Because basin-specific changes in runoff from global warming are currently uncertain and much delayed, most project analyses will be unaffected by global warming. The most important response by water managers to climate change may simply be to closely monitor runoff and incorporate flexible rules in order to adapt their behavior to observed changes.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, T.L. and Johnson, R.N.: 1986, ‘The Problem of Instream Flows.’ Economic Inquiry 24, 3–553.Google Scholar
  2. Bennett, L.L.: 1994, The Interstate River Compact: Efficiency, Compliance and Climate Change, Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Colorado, NCAR-CT 151.Google Scholar
  3. Bennett, L.L. and Howe, C.W.: 1997, ‘The Efficiency of Interstate River Compacts as Water Allocation Mechanisms,’ working paper.Google Scholar
  4. Booker, J.F.: 1995, ‘Hydrologic and Economic Impacts of Drought Under Alternative Policy Responses.’ Water Resour. Bull. 31, 889–906.Google Scholar
  5. Booker, J.F. and Young, R.A.: 1994, ‘Modeling Intrastate and Interstate Markets for Colorado River Water Resources.’ J. of Environ. Econom. and Management 26, 66–87.Google Scholar
  6. Booker, J.F. and Young, R.A.: 1991, Economic Impacts of Alternative Water Allocation Institutions in the Colorado River Basin. Completion Report No. 161, Colorado Water Resources Institute, Colorado State University.Google Scholar
  7. Colby, B.G.: 1993, The Economics of Indian Water Conflicts: Competing Property Rights, Shifting Distributions of Risk and the Role of the Market in Policy Implementation.’ in: Water Quantity and Quality Disputes and their Resolution, A. Dinar and E. Loehman, (Eds.), Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Coutant, C.C.: 1981, ‘Foreseeable Effects of CO2-induced Climatic Change: Freshwater Concerns.’ Environmental Conservation 8, 285–297.Google Scholar
  9. Cummings, R.G.: 1974, Interbasin Water Transfers. Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  10. Duell, L.F. W. Jr.: 1992, ‘Use of Regression Models to Estimate Effects of Climate Change on Seasonal Streamflow in the American and Carson River Basins, California-Nevada.’ in Managing Water Resources During Global Change. Herrmann, R., (Ed.), Amer. Water Resour. Assoc. 28th Annual Conference Proceedings.Google Scholar
  11. Frederick, K.D.: 1991, ‘Economic Consequences of Climate Variability on Water in the West.’ in Managing Water Resources in the West Under Conditions of Climate Uncertainty: A Proceedings, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  12. Frederick, K.D. and Gibbons, D.C.: 1986, (Eds.), Scarce Water and Institutional Change. Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  13. Gisser, M. and Johnson, R.N.: 1983, ‘Institutional Restrictions on the Transfer of Water Rights and the Survival of an Agency.’ in Water Rights., Anderson, T., (Ed.), San Francisco: Pacific Institute for Policy Research.Google Scholar
  14. Gleick, P.H.: 1988, ‘The Effects of Future Climatic Changes on International Water Resources: the Colorado River, the United States, and Mexico.’ Policy Sciences 21, 23–39.Google Scholar
  15. Howe, C.W., Schurmeirer, D.R. and Shaw, W.D. Jr.: 1986, ‘Innovative Approaches to Water Allocation: The Potential for Water Markets.’ Water Resour. Res. 22, 439–445.Google Scholar
  16. Johnson, R.N., Gisser, M. and Werner, M..: 1981, ‘The Definition of a Surface Water Right and Transferability.’ J. of Law and Econom. 24, 273–88.Google Scholar
  17. Miller, J.R. and Russell, G.L.: 1992, ‘The Impact of Global Warming on River Runoff.’ J. of Geophys. Res. 97, 2757–2764.Google Scholar
  18. Rango, A. and van Katwijk, V.: 1990, ‘Water Supply Implications of Climate Change in Western North American Basins.’ International and Transboundary Water Resources Issues. AWRA 27th Annual Conference Proceedings.Google Scholar
  19. Revelle, R.R. and Waggoner, P.E.: 1983, "Effects of a Carbon Dioxide-Induced Climatic Change on Water Supplies in the Western United States," in Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee. National Academy Press, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  20. Rhodes, S.L., Ely, D. and Dracup, J.A.: 1984, ‘Climate and the Colorado River: the Limits of Management.’ Bull. Amer. Meteorolog. Soc. 65, 682–691.Google Scholar
  21. Stockton, C.W. and Jacoby, G.C.: 1979, ‘Long-Term Surface Water Supply and Streamflow Trends in the Upper Colorado River Basin Based on Tree-Ring Analyses.’ Lake Powell Research Project, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona.Google Scholar
  22. Waggoner, P.E. (ed.): 1990, Climate Change and U.S. Water Resources. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Mendelsohn
    • 1
  • Lynne L. Bennett
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesNew Haven

Personalised recommendations