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Keywords:

  • ground water management;
  • water allocation;
  • water policy;
  • watershed conservation;
  • efficiency pricing;
  • water scarcity economics

Abstract: Conserving the watershed can help to preserve ground water recharge. Preventing overuse of available water through pricing reforms can also substantially increase the value of an aquifer. Inasmuch as users are accustomed to low prices, efficiency pricing may be politically infeasible, and watershed conservation may be considered as an alternative. We estimate and compare welfare gains from pricing reform and watershed conservation for a water management district in Oahu that obtains its water supply from the Pearl Harbor aquifer. We find that pricing reform is welfare superior to watershed conservation unless the latter is able to prevent very large recharge losses. Watershed conservation that yields net gains in combination with pricing reform may cause net losses without the pricing reform. If adoption of watershed conservation delays the implementation of pricing reform, the benefits of the latter are significantly reduced.