FEDERAL ACQUISITION OF WATER THROUGH VOLUNTARY TRANSACTIONS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PURPOSES
BENJAMIN M. SIMON
Throughout U.S. history public land management agencies have attempted to achieve environmental objectives by relying on a broad range of policy tools, including both regulatory and voluntary mechanisms. An important component of these policies has been oriented toward the acquisition of land or partial interests in land from voluntary sellers. However, it has become clear that preserving or restoring damaged ecosystems increasingly requires more than land and easement acquisitions. The procurement of water for environmental purposes is becoming increasingly common. In some regions such acquisitions also represent a significant share of the local water market activity. Given the increasingly important role these transactions play in achieving federal environmental objectives, it makes sense to consider the alternative mechanisms available that could be used for such acquisitions. This paper examines the situations where the federal government has acquired water for environmental purposes and the extent to which competitive mechanisms-such as auctions-could be used in future acquisition efforts. Copyright 1998 Western Economic Association International.
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