Date of Completion

5-10-2020

Embargo Period

4-23-2022

Advisors

Farhed Shah, Emma Bojinova, Gary Robbins

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics

Degree

Master of Science

Open Access

Campus Access

Abstract

This thesis focuses on the importance of the connection between groundwater and surface water in the context of interstate water apportionment compacts. It develops a steady-state hydro-economic model for assessing the economic efficiency of compact allocations. The model is applied to the Republican River basin, with two counties in Nebraska acting as the upstream region and two counties in Kansas serving as the downstream region. Simulation results based on secondary data show that when viewing the compact with a historical perspective, wherein it governs only surface water, the assigned compact allocations are non-binding and become irrelevant in the study region. Higher water withdrawals in this situation lead to decreased river-flow in the downstream region and presumably a loss of benefits to irrigation in regions further downstream that is not accounted for in the simulations, but would be considered when determining state-wide or basin-level compact allocations. This occurs because the compact does not consider groundwater withdrawals under the historical perspective. When the social planner views the compact as governing surface water and groundwater usage combined, however, compact allocations are binding and changes in them do increase overall net benefits. These net benefits are even higher when the social planner has more flexibility, such as being able to change surface water rights allocations across states. Adjusting surface water rights with inter-state considerations is an unlikely scenario and compact allocation adjustment can also be burdensome. Results of the simulations are illustrative given the data limitations and other simplifying assumptions made in the study.

Major Advisor

Farhed Shah

Available for download on Saturday, April 23, 2022

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