Water Banking in the West

Date of Award


Document Type

Capstone Project


Environmental Policy And Management

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Policy And Management


Environmental Policy And Management


Steven Bissell


Water Banking; Water banking -- Environmental aspects -- West (U.S.); Water supply -- West (U.S.); Water Use


Water is an ever-growing concern throughout the West. The water supply that is currently available is facing increasing demand. In fact, the current supply is unable to meet the demands of all markets. Currently, most of the water use and rights reside with agricultural water users, but the demand is increasing for urban water users with no new supplies to allocate. Additionally, there are problematic restrictions placed on that water supply. In most of the states in the West, the water-right owner must permanently transfer that right in order to allow other users access to their water. If they keep temporarily giving up the use of the water, they may permanently lose it without compensation. So, in these times of increasing need of water in urban areas, agricultural users feel compelled to one of two undesirable choices: Holding onto their water, thereby depriving others of its use, or selling their water right outright which could lead to the economic decline of many rural areas. A third choice is starting to become available in the West water banking is an emerging concept that allows for the temporary transfer of water among users that meet societal needs while still protecting the rights of individuals. This Capstone project will review how water banking is currently being implemented in the West. I will then develop a policy that can be adapted and used for future water banking projects in the West.

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