The current allocation of water is largely political – with certain stakeholders (i.e., states, municipalities and farmers) receiving some portion of a fixed supply. Glennon argues for making it easier for these stakeholders to trade rights.
Property rights are not as clear cut as other kinds of rights, since groundwater, for example, comes from the underlying water table, which is spread out across everyone's land.
Water is much too cheap in cities, and for certain privileged farmers who own the rights. It would be better to make consumers pay more at the spigot, rather than impose blanket restrictions on watering the lawn. It would also be better to let the farmers sell their rights if the water is more valuable than the output they could otherwise grow with it.
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- In a Land of Scarce Water, Prices Should Be the Guide