Policy Watch: Richard Howitt

Pricing Solutions to California's Water Impasse

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May 16, 2012
from 12:10 PM to 01:00 PM


273 Social Sciences and Humanities

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California’s economy runs on energy, information, and water, all of which are delivered by complex network infrastructures. Water is the least economically developed and a significant quantity of the imported supply to southern and central California is threatened by the current policy impasse over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.  The talk focuses on the costs of implementing a potential infrastructure solution to the Delta problem, namely a forty mile water export tunnel under the Delta. The potential tunnel raises two economic questions:

  • How can the 9-12 billion dollar tunnel be financed by user contributions?
  • What are the economic impacts of the tunnel water exports on the regional economy in the Delta?

The first question is addressed by results from economic experiments on alternative pricing mechanisms, and the second question by results from a recent study of the regional Delta economy under alternative flooding and salinity scenarios.

Richard Howitt photoRichard Howitt is currently a Professor of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of California at Davis. His current research interests are in the following areas: disaggregated economic modeling methods, testing market mechanisms for the allocation of natural resources, experimental economics, and implementing empirical dynamic stochastic methods. Current applications include the optimal management of reservoirs, alternative configurations for the Sacramento Delta, a futures market for California water, the economic impacts of drought in the California, and the impacts of climate change and carbon payments.

Recently Howitt has co-authored two books on the Sacramento Delta and a third book on the future of California water management.

Howitt serves on advisory boards for the California Department of Water Resources, and US Academy of Sciences.

Institute of Governmental Affairs

University of California, Davis
360 Shields Library
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616


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