Examining Water Transfers at the Western Governors' Association
By Carlee Brown
M.S. Earth Systems '11, B.A. American Studies '09
The Western Governors' Association (WGA) serves 19 Western states and three US-flag Pacific Islands by helping governors develop and advocate policies that reflect regional interests. Water availability in the West is one of the primary issues of concern, particularly with booming urban populations and the dry climate.
My research includes water transfers, which are the sale or lease of a water right to another party -- usually from agricultural to urban uses. WGA recently began an 18-month project on water transfers, which will ultimately culminate in a report with a "toolbox" of policies and programs that states can use to address the issue.
My role in WGA's project is to provide the background information necessary to understand these transfers. I began by researching the role of agriculture and water use in the West. I analyzed USDA agricultural census data in order to quantify the economic value of farming, particularly in regard to irrigated agriculture. I'm now doing more in-depth research by reading the most current literature on transfers -- including, for instance, the economic impacts of transferring irrigation water out of rural communities. Working on such complex issues has made my time spent at WGA both exciting and engaging.
Read more at the Out West Blog for Summer Interns »