© 2014

Water Markets for the 21st Century

What Have We Learned?

  • K. William Easter
  • Qiuqiong Huang
  • Provides a historical and practical examination of the concepts and function water markets

  • Offers case study examples of a wide range of market types spanning 5 continents

  • Surveys the prospects for future water rights and markets, in the face of climate change, evolving understanding of rights to water and the conflict between new and traditional uses for water


Part of the Global Issues in Water Policy book series (GLOB, volume 11)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. K. William Easter, Qiuqiong Huang
    Pages 1-9
  3. Laura McCann, Dustin Garrick
    Pages 11-34
  4. Mark W. Rosegrant, Claudia Ringler, Tingju Zhu
    Pages 35-55
  5. Robert Hearne, Guillermo Donoso
    Pages 103-126
  6. Slim Zekri, Dennis Powers, Abdullah Al-Ghafri
    Pages 149-162
  7. Henning Bjornlund, Alec Zuo, Sarah Wheeler, Wei Xu
    Pages 215-237
  8. R. Maria Saleth
    Pages 239-261
  9. Jinxia Wang, Lijuang Zhang, Qiuqiong Huang, Jikun Huang, Scott Rozelle
    Pages 263-282
  10. Nicholas Brozović, Richael Young
    Pages 283-303
  11. Christopher Goemans, James Pritchett
    Pages 305-330
  12. K. William Easter, Qiuqiong Huang
    Pages 331-336
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 337-341

About this book


This book evaluates the history, the present and the future of water markets on 5 continents, beginning with the institutional underpinnings of water markets and factors influencing transaction costs. The book examines markets in seven countries and three different U.S. states, ranging from village-level water markets in Oman to basin wide formal water markets in Australia's Murray-Darling River basin.

Introductory chapters on the background of water markets and on transaction costs and policy design are followed by chapter length discussion of water markets as an adaptive response to climate change and of supply reliability in a changing climate. Case studies describe a variety of facets of the design and function of markets around the world: California, Chile, Spain, Oman, Australia, Canada, India and China.

In analyzing these real-world examples of markets, the contributors explore water rights, and trading of rights between agricultural and urban sectors, and the principles and function of option markets. They discuss different sized approaches, from large scale, ministry-level administration of markets to informal arrangements among farmers in the same village, or groups of villages which allocate water without large investment in management and infrastructure. Discussion includes questions of why water market practices have not expanded more rapidly in arid places.

The book discusses mechanisms for resolving conflicts between water rights holders as well as between water right holders and third parties impacted by water trades, and whether or not public ownership of water rights or use rights should trump private ownership and under what condition. Also covered are new and expanding categories of water use, beyond human consumption, agriculture and industry to new technologies ranging from extracting natural gas from shale to producing biofuels.

The book concludes with suggestions for future water markets and offers a realistic picture of how they might change water use and distribution practices going forward.


Climate change effects Water markets Water right holders Water rights Water scarcity

Editors and affiliations

  • K. William Easter
    • 1
  • Qiuqiong Huang
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Minnesota Dept. Applied EconomicsSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Economics and AgribusinessUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA

Bibliographic information

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