Title

Analysis of the Use It or Lose It Policy

Presenter Information

Taylor Wilkinson

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Market Based Alternatives

Abstract

The use it or lose it policy was designed to encourage continual beneficial use of water. Since water is considered a public resource, a water right can be revoked whenever a user fails to meet the beneficial use test. Water is a scarce resource in the eastern part of Washington State and if it is not being used beneficially or if only a portion of the water allotted in the right is used, it theoretically would be allotted to another user who would utilize the water more efficiently. This use it or lose it policy has had negative effects, both economically and ecologically. To avoid relinquishing water rights, holders will often waste water by using it in ways that are not beneficial in efforts to protect their allocations. Fortunately, this problem can be mitigated by adopting market based solutions such as water markets, which would change the basis from beneficial use to willingness to pay. Policy alternatives examined will include (1) redefining of beneficial use, (2) altering the time associated with the relinquishment statue, and (3) restructuring of water right allocation from prior appropriation to willingness-to-pay.

Poster Number

69

Faculty Mentor(s)

Rex Wirth

Department/Program

Environmental Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Political Science

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May 21st, 11:30 AM May 21st, 2:00 PM

Analysis of the Use It or Lose It Policy

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

The use it or lose it policy was designed to encourage continual beneficial use of water. Since water is considered a public resource, a water right can be revoked whenever a user fails to meet the beneficial use test. Water is a scarce resource in the eastern part of Washington State and if it is not being used beneficially or if only a portion of the water allotted in the right is used, it theoretically would be allotted to another user who would utilize the water more efficiently. This use it or lose it policy has had negative effects, both economically and ecologically. To avoid relinquishing water rights, holders will often waste water by using it in ways that are not beneficial in efforts to protect their allocations. Fortunately, this problem can be mitigated by adopting market based solutions such as water markets, which would change the basis from beneficial use to willingness to pay. Policy alternatives examined will include (1) redefining of beneficial use, (2) altering the time associated with the relinquishment statue, and (3) restructuring of water right allocation from prior appropriation to willingness-to-pay.