Doing Better with Less: Lessons for California from Australia’s Water Reforms

This policy brief outlines water reforms undertaken in Australia in the 1990s and their results, which in many ways are applicable to California today. The author, Professor Jeff Bennett, one of the foremost authorities on Australia’s water rights system and the author of numerous papers on the subject, emphasizes the importance of establishing clearly defined, readily enforceable property rights to all available sources of water, and enabling those rights to be traded without undue fetters. The result of such reforms has been water prices that better reflect its scarcity value as well as delivery cost.

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