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Pacific salmon fisheries -- Columbia River, Salmon stock management -- Columbia River, Natural resources -- Management -- Oregon, Salmon -- Effect of irrigation on

Physical Description

63 pages


This paper begins with a brief history of water law in the west, illustrating the roots of conflict over water allocation. A more detailed examination of activities in the Columbia Basin follows, describing the many parties affected by issues of water use and the overlapping institutional structures that govern the river and its water.

Sources of pressure to change the current pattern of water use are then considered. These include requirements to protect endangered salmon runs and the change over time in the relative values of water for power production and irrigation. This section demonstrates how changes in the value of resources can create conflict when resource allocations are inflexible.

Alternative approaches to water allocation are then detailed. An argument is made that water use on the Columbia should be flexible, and that the ability to transfer water more easily from one use to another would be beneficial. The potential economic, social, and environmental benefits and costs of water transfers are also considered.

The final section of the paper looks at barriers to water transfers and recommendations for institutional change. The section offers examples of market

structures and policy options that might overcome some of the obstacles to water transfers. The argument for a more flexible system of water allocation is then summarized.


A research paper submitted to the faculty of the School of Urban and Public Affairs in candidacy for the degree of Master of Urban Studies, Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Catalog Number SR029.

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