Washington (Feb. 19) – In the coming years water scarcity will be a major challenge for the western United States. However, the current state of water regulations is only exacerbating the problem by restricting access to water for beneficial uses. In a new policy study, R Street Senior Fellow, Josiah Neeley presents and assesses several potential reforms to state regulations of surface water that could make its use more efficient and could help states adapt better to climate change.

As the United States continues to grapple with major events tied to a warming climate, many states are furthering the damage done by sticking by outdated or inefficient water regulations. Neeley points out that certain changes could increase the flexibility and use of water markets, which will be critical to meet the challenges of climate change. He notes that while these reforms are not comprehensive, “each would go a long way to help western states meet their growing water scarcity challenges.”

The dire nature of the water availability crisis in the western United States underscores the need for practices that will increase conservation and free up more water for beneficial uses. If widely adopted, these reforms could help ease the transition to the warmer world of the future.

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