24 Sep 2008

Grandfathered Stupidity

Imperial Irrigation District -- not known for "excellence in water management" -- has managed to set a new record in dumb ideas:
New businesses are feeling a pinch as the Imperial Irrigation District deals with a water supply-demand imbalance — namely that there isn’t any water for them.

While reviewing applications for new businesses, Andy Horne, county deputy CEO for natural resources development, said the county looks closely at whether it can provide enough water before approving new businesses.

But, under the IID’s proposed water regulation guidelines, businesses’ water usage will be determined based on past usage — something new businesses don’t have.
Farmers use 96 percent of IID's water. They are allowed to trade it among themselves, but businesses are fined if they use more than "their share."

Bottom Line: End the misery. Implement a real market for water at IID.


  1. Economists seem not to have studied that branch of the field called "whose ox gets gored".

    When proposing changes to policy the only important question is who gains and who loses, and who has the political power to ensure that they get what they want.

    Right now a bunch of farmers are very happy with the status quo. I don't know anything about the political situation in the region, but I'm willing to bet that they also have a great deal of political influence as well.

    So, what you are proposing is to take away some of their income and influence. Where do you see the political power coming from to do this?

    All the good intentions in the world don't count if one can't get them implemented.

    Anytime someone proposes lofty goals I always shout: implementation, implementation, implementation! I seldom get a response.

  2. Here's your response:
    1) Study the situation.
    2) Realize that IID does NOT work on behalf of farmers, since they are not given the freedom to market their water.
    3) Understand that this is because everyone is fighting over water and money and that fighting vetoes action (tragedy of anti-commons)
    4) Conclude that nobody benefits from status quo.
    5) Observe all this, get people to the table, buy everyone off (by making share/revenue streams transparent and tradable).
    6) Problem solved.

    It's not political power that is the problem here but greed.

  3. Hey, wait, is greed not the prime virtue of perfectly-functioning markets? Just askin' a philosophical question, nothing to do with IID...


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