Report sheds light on complexities of agricultural water transfers

January 28, 2019

A new report co-produced by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) and Mammoth Trading offers insight into the use of water transfers as a way to reduce water scarcity risk and meet competing demands among agricultural, environmental and urban interests.

“While a lot of water rights trading is going on, most of it is at the local level and sealed with a handshake between farmers,” said co-author Richael Young, co-founder and CEO of Mammoth Trading. “There hasn’t been systematic documentation of how water trading is being done, by whom, or how much water and land are involved. This report helps define the different forms of water markets in play and how they are being used to provide value and risk management.”

The report, funded by the Office of the Chief Economist of the USDA, includes input from dozens of water practitioners and policymakers throughout the western United States, as well as data collected from a number of published research papers. The authors used these resources to identify the types of water transfers that are occurring, the challenges around transfers, the policies for monitoring and enforcing transfers and the methods of data collection and reporting.

“Since agricultural irrigation accounts for more than 60% of fresh water use in the western U.S., understanding how water transfers are working – or not – can have a tremendous impact on both food and water security,” said Nicholas Brozović, co-author and director of policy for the DWFI.


Read the full report

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Photo credit: Nebraska Department of Natural Resources