Groundwater management in the western U.S. has always presented difficulty in states that have developed a “tragedy of the commons” circumstance. Correcting these developing situations continues to bump up against the definition of reasonableness, beneficial uses, equity and economic value of use. We have always addressed change in groundwater management through the lens of appropriate compensation and this has, more often than not, kicked the can down the road. Nobody wants to lose their historic right to water regardless of the damage done to an aquifer. Unfortunately, the outcome of this type of focus and response has created emptying aquifers, water quality problems, subsidence, loss of aquifer storage and the depletion of surface flows.
Farmers, some cities and many domestic well users have now experienced not having water and this has altered the motivation of a very small group of people. It is a situation that Benjamin Franklin summarized well, “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”
We have always addressed change in groundwater management through the lens of appropriate compensation. Nobody wants to lose their historic right to water. So, how can a positive change be developed?
Maybe appropriate compensation should consider the balance of the specific water benefit with the shortfalls created by its' use. By doing this, appropriate compensation can be translated to the water value of the water use to society. The cumulative effect of this approach will be resource security, optimum quality improvements, longevity for our future generations and positive economic decisions that build our communities.
We are at a point today where a “zero sum gain” or the “status quo” will perpetuate the eventual loss of a critical resource. Call Operation Unite® and discuss this further. Operation Unite® builds public responsibility. Let’s get it done.