NCEAS Product 25565

Kendy, Eloise; Aylward, Bruce; Ziemer, Laura; Richter, Brian; Colby, Bonnie; Grantham, Ted; Sanchez, Leslie; Dicharry, Will B; Powell, Emily; Martin, Season; Culp, Peter; Szeptycki, Leon; Kappel, Carrie V. 2018. Water Transactions for Streamflow Restoration, Water Supply Reliability, and Rural Economic Vitality in the Western United States. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. (Abstract) (Online version)


Across the western United States, environmental water transaction programs (EWTPs) restore environmental flows by acquiring water rights and incentivizing changes in water management. These programs have evolved over several decades, expanding from relatively simple two-party transactions to multiobjective deals that simultaneously benefit the environment and multiple water-using sectors. Such programs now represent an important water management tool and provide an impetus for collaboration among stakeholders; yet, most evaluations of their effectiveness focus exclusively on environmental outcomes, without adequate attention to impacts on other water users or local economies. To understand how these programs affect stakeholders, a systematic, multiobjective evaluation framework is needed. To meet this need, we developed a suite of environmental and socioeconomic indicators that can guide the design and track the implementation of water transaction portfolios, and we applied them to existing EWTPs in Oregon and Nevada. Application of the indicators quantifies impacts and helps practitioners design water transaction portfolios that avoid unintended consequences and generate mutually beneficial outcomes among environmental, agricultural, and municipal interests.