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Keywords:

  • public goods;
  • property rights;
  • environmental water management
  • H41;
  • Q50

In public policy debates, it is typically assumed that governments should play a significant role in providing river and riparian goods, whereas the role of the private sector is limited. We draw on case studies from Australia and the United States, showing that public provision is often substantially inefficient. Although private provision has the potential to remedy some of these inefficiencies, it also introduces new problems. We conclude that government should reduce impediments to private provision, gradually scale back public provision and investigate subsidies as an alternative way of addressing the “free rider” problem.