Salmon preservation efforts in Washington State demonstrate the competitive and interconnected nature of water management issues in a water scarce environment. The decline in stream flows in Washington State and the negative impact of low stream flows on anadromous species has severely hindered rehabilitation of endangered Columbia River Basin salmon stocks. Through examining the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) anemic efforts to preserve endangered stocks, primarily through the Endangered Species Act, and through analyzing the Washington Department of Ecology's (DOE) regulatory structure for water market transfers, I propose several changes in the regulatory structure for water that may positively impact the preservation of Columbia River Basin salmon stocks. Decentralizing DOE regulatory authority to enable local water basin planning groups to approve water transfers will decrease transaction costs and improve security of water rights. In turn, programs such as the Washington Water Trust and the incentive based Water Acquisition Program will encourage water rights holder to divert less water from the river. Also, the development of an options market for water transfers will provide further security for water rights holders and will eliminate the need for the antiquated use it or lose it clause. These improvements to Washington State's water markets will help salmon preservationists by easing the process with which the Washington Water Trust can purchase or lease water for in-stream use.
Date of Completion
Baars, David A., "Utilizing the Washington Water Markets for the Preservation of Columbia River Basin Salmon Stock" (2007). Economics Theses. 69.