Almost four billion people will live in river basins experiencing severe water stress by 2050 according to the baseline estimate of the 2012 OECD Environmental Outlook. Water markets and integrated river basin governance have been upheld as institutional blueprints for allocating scarce and variable freshwater for people, agriculture and ecosystems. Progress has been uneven, however, despite multiple decades of institutional reforms in rivers under pressure. Dr. Garrick examines the evolution and performance of water allocation reforms in the Colorado, Columbia and Murray–Darling Basins, three ‘closed rivers’ at the leading edge of water scarcity challenges globally. This talk will summarize over a decade of policy and economic research in the three basins to generate lessons about the principles and pathways to more adaptive and sustainable water allocation policy. It will close with lessons and implications for international observers.
Dustin Evan Garrick is an Assistant Professor and Philomathia Chair of Water Policy at McMaster University. He specializes in water allocation policy and river basin governance in water stressed regions of Western North America and Southeast Australia. His new book, Water Allocation in Rivers Under Pressure, focuses on the evolution and performance of water markets and river basin governance in the Western U.S. and Australia. He has also recently launched a SSHRC-funded project on Transboundary Rivers and Adaptation to Climate Extremes (TRACE) in North America. Prior to joining McMaster in January 2014, Dr. Garrick was a research fellow at the University of Oxford (2011-13) and a Fulbright Scholar (2010-11) in Australia, where he remains a research associate of the Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy at Australian National University.