The Edwards Aquifer: An Economic Perspective

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Texas Water Resources Institute

Business as usual has ceased to be an acceptable system for the Edwards because of the burden it imposes upon regional competitiveness and welfare. Nonrevisionist strategies such as surface water development and spring flow augmentation address symptoms of the problem without curing the cause. Available evidence regarding water development also indicates that these strategies are not cost-effective.

Needed are new policy constructs in tune with heightened water scarcity and the variety of demands now served by the Edwards Aquifer. A system of transferable groundwater rights is commendable for several reasons. It is flexible because it accomodates unforeseeable future shifts in demand. Transferable rights allow voluntary action on behalf of water users as opposed to requiring compliance with offensive regulations. The marketing of water complements regional competitiveness because water is not bound to inefficient uses, and overly expensive methods of water supply enhancement are avoided.