Interjecting Economics into the Surface Water Dialogue
Vol. 10 No. 1 (2019). Cover Photo: Painted bunting at Madla Park, Grey Forest, Texas. ©2018 Grace Hardy.


surface water regulations
surface water allocation
surface water tax

How to Cite

Vaca, Maria, Stefni Richards, Alexa Davis, Kylie Jackson, Nanag Timur, Fahad Manzoor, Said Azam, Robert Feltman, and James Milton Griffin. 2019. “Interjecting Economics into the Surface Water Dialogue”. Texas Water Journal 10 (1). College Station, Texas:112-27.


This paper applies the conceptual lens of economic efficiency as a criterion by which to evaluate surface water in Texas. We identify two major problems. First, Texas has a water allocation problem limiting the ability to substitute groundwater for surface water to move water between river basins and to facilitate transfers within a river basin. Second, surface water is both underpriced and unresponsive to drought conditions preventing it from being used at its highest and best use. We propose a variety of partial solutions, which include facilitating greater reliance on water markets as well as a water tax that would vary across regions and over time to encourage conservation.

Citation: Vaca M, Richards S, Davis A, Jackson K, Timur N, Manzoor F, Azam S, Feltman R, Griffin J. 2019. Interjecting economics into the surface water dialogue. Texas Water Journal. 10(1):112-127. Available from:


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Copyright (c) 2019 James Milton Griffin