Today, the agricultural region surrounding the Klamath River, which straddles southern Oregon and northern California, is embroiled in conflict. For a century, farmers have used the Klamath’s water for irrigation, but the federal government and Indian tribes have strong claims to the irrigation water as well. In 2001, the federal government cut off water to farmers in order to protect two endangered fish, an act that aroused anger and caused financial distress.
“Restoring Harmony in the Klamath Basin” explains how this conflict developed and offers a solution—markets in water. Written by Roger Meiners and Lea-Rachel Kosnik, this paper persuasively argues that clarification of property rights to water is fundamental to ending the crisis. If these rights are clarified, voluntary markets in water can set the stage for a more harmonious future in the basin.
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