Water Management: A Problem of Institutional Design
David Mulkey and Roy Carriker*
From an economic perspective, water management may be broadly
conceptualized as the process by which "needs" for water are trans-
lated into effective demand for water, physical availability of
water is translated into effective supply of water, and by which
demand for water is reconciled with the supply of water. Water
management, in reconciling demand with supply, must implicitly or
explicitly recognize time, place, and form aspects of water demand
and supply. Hence, water management may include construction of
storage reservoirs to make water available over time, interregional
transfers to make water available at the desired place, desalinization
or water treatment to make water available in the desired form, or
other measures designed to enhance the supply of water. On the other
hand, water management may include conservation, rationing, pricing
schemes, or other measures designed to reduce the demand for water.
In addition, various flood control measures are often called for:to
avert the undesirable effects of having more than a desired amount
of water present at a particular place and time. Again, these
measures may take the form of structural devices or non-structural
measures such as flood plain zoning designed to prevent or modify
construction in flood prone areas.
The law embodies much of the institutional framework within
which water management decisions are made; however, water management
in the eastern United States has been less structured than the
preceding discussion might imply. Water allocation decisions (de-
cisions as to the actual uses of water) under common-law doctrines
are a myriad of decentralized, individual decisions.. The availability
of adequate quantities of water at reasonable costs has allowed water
management agencies to concentrate primarily on the enhancement of
water supplies--time, place, and form considerations--with little need
to worry about the reconciliation of supply and demand. Consequently,
the institutional framework which has evolved through custom and case
*The authors are Assistant Professors, Department of Food and
Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
law places few restraints on the rights of individual water users.
This is in stark contrast to the more arid western states where the
existing water law more clearly defines the rights of individual
The important point is that the functioning of existing insti-
tutions in the water allocation and management arena is predicated
on a particular set of supply and demand conditions--abundant supplies
relative to demand--and water "problems" generally result from some
change in these conditions. These "problems", when they occur, usually
manifest themselves as inadequacy of existing institutions to satis-
factorily reconcile supply with demand in terms of time, place, or
form dimensions. When this happens, there is a felt need to adjust
the structure of decisionmaking (the institutional arrangement) in
order to facilitate water management under new conditions.
The role of water policy then is to assess the adequacy of
existing institutional arrangements, and where these are found
deficient, the design of alternative institutional arrangements. If
the latter course is deemed appropriate, immediate questions are
raised concerning which type of institutional arrangement should be
adopted, and a structured debate centered around this question
requires an analytical approach to institutional design. That is,
rational choice among alternative sets of institutions requires a
concept of institutional performance which facilitates evaluation
This paper represents an attempt to apply an institutional
approach to the broad question of regional water management and, in
particular, to the question of water allocation under conditions of
scarcity. First, attention is focused on the definition and role
of institutions in resource allocation, and the institutional nature
of water management is discussed. Second, the idea of performance
variables for institutional evaluation--such as information costs,
goal articulation, enforcement costs and conflict resolution--is
introduced, and a discussion is presented which compares the expected
performance of water management institutions predicated on decentral-
ized decisionmaking with administrative water law systems which
mandate centralized decisionmaking. Finally, the paper concludes
with a brief discussion of the potential for institutional design
under administrative water law.
Water, like most natural resources, is scarce at certain times
and certain places. Scarcity, in this context occurs whenever quantity
demanded exceeds quantity supplied under existing terms of trade. The
condition of scarcity.gives rise to the necessity of choice, which in
turn suggests the need for a decision framework by which the scarce
resource is allocated among competing uses and users over time and
space. Basic to this process of choice is the functional role of the
institutional arrangements for resource allocation.
Institutions in this context are "sets of ordered relationships
among people which define their rights, exposure to the rights of
" others, privileges, and responsibilities ". An important subset
428 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
of institutions generally defined are "economic institutions con-
ceptualized as social decision systems [which] provide decision rules
for the use of resources and for the distribution of the income stream
derived from such use ". In other words, economic institutions
provide decision rules for resource management. They specify which
person, group, or agency is to make decision's with respect to resource
use, establish limits to the decisionmaking power of such entities,
and provide rules to ensure that the appropriate constraints are
Decision systems for resource allocation are notably hierarchical
in nature. Ciriacy-Wantrup usefully delineates a three-level hierarchy
of decision systems for water management . The first level relates
to the control of resources as inputs into consumption or production
processes. The decisionmakers may be both private and public, and
both are assumed to control the resource in a manner calculated to
further their own particular objectives subject to constraints of
technology, institutions and resource availability. Producing firms,
for example, are observed to combine resources in such proportions,
with respect to each other and with respect to various outputs, as
to maximize net returns to the firm.
Resource users are constrained in their control of resources by
the combined provisions of civil and criminal law, including case
law, property law, and administrative law. The object of law as it
relates to resource allocation is to provide for the orderly conduct
of resource management over time and among users and uses, and as
such constitutes the institutional framework within which first level
decisions are made. Decisions to change these constraints occur at
the second level of the hierarchy of decision systems, and are gener-
ally made through legislatures or by various federal, state, or local
agencies created to enforce and implement various legislative mandates.
A third level in the hierarchy of decisions is exemplified by
the constitutional organization of the United States. It was adopted
almost two hundred years ago, complete with prescribed procedures for
altering its provisions. It created the legislative, executive, and
judicial branches of government, and in prescribing those duties,
responsibilities, and prerogitives, established the institutional
framework within which second level decisions are made. It also
defined the distinctions between local, state, and federal levels
within each branch, specifying which powers are retained at the federal
level and which are delegated to lower levels. The constitution also
contains a list of rights retained by individuals which may not be
usurped by government and which serve as constraints on government
activities. More importantly, with respect to the workings of the
resource allocation process, the third level in the hierarchy serves
to impose constraints on second level decisions.
Within a given institutional setting, people use resources to
further their own objectives. Given the hierarchical nature of
decision systems for resource allocation, "...not only will people
pursue their self-interest within the rules; they will also allocate
resources toward changing the rules to their own benefit ". The
impetus for institutional change stems from the fact that there are
almost always gainers and losers as a result of any change in laws or
rules governing rights to the use of resources. The change manifests
itself either as it affects allocation of a resource among uses, or
as it affects the distribution of income streams among individuals.
Pressures for institutional change exist whenever sufficient numbers
of people, or sufficiently influential people, are unhappy over either
the allocative or distributional outcomes of first level decisionmaking.
Since pressures for institutional change often come about as a
result of shifts in resource availability or in citizens income or
preferences over time, an important consideration in institutional
design is the capacity of the institution to adjust as conditions
change over time.
Various segments of the constituency will often disagree over
which policy measures best serve their particular interests, thus,
political decisionmakers must have the accommodations of partisan
interests in mind as an important goal .
A purpose of the institution is to ensure that the behavior of
individuals with respect to resource allocation be consistent with
societal goals for resource allocation. Therefore, the institution
must structure the set of incentives, disincentives, and constraints
facing the individual first level decisionmaker in such a manner as
to reduce the divergence between his individual self interest and the
goals of society with respect to his behavior.
Related standards against which institutional alternatives may
be compared are the levels of information costs and enforcement costs
associated with each. As a decision system governing the use of
resources and the distribution of income streams derived from each use,
the economic institution must in some manner oversee the process by
which the resource is distributed among users. Information is clearly
a necessary condition for the orderly conduct of this process. Insti-
* tutional alternatives may vary considerably in their capacities for
low cost generation of essential information on the time, place,
quality, and quantity dimensions of the allocation process. The rules,
regulations, constraints, rights, and entitlements which comprise the
substance of the institution also require provisions for enforcement.
Institutions which are equally desirable by other criteria may entail
markedly different enforcement costs.
To the extent that institutional factors to enhance performance
measured by one standard detract from performance measured by another
standard, the process of institutional design resembles multiple-
objective decisionmaking, and account must be taken of trade-offs among
objectives of institutional change. However, it is also the case that
some performance criteria are complementary.
In summary, institutions for resource allocation must provide a
decision framework governing the process by which scarce resources
are allocated among competing uses, and by which income streams from
Resource use are distributed among groups and individuals in society.
The process by which such institutions are designed or redesigned is
a political process occurring at the second level of a hierarchy of
decision systems for resource allocation. Effective decisionmaking for
institutional change must compare institutional alternatives according
to their relative ability to accommodate partisan interests (resolve
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
conflict), accommodate change over time, and minimize information costs
and enforcement costs.
Water Management and Institutional Design
The concepts of resource institutions, institutional change and
institutional performance provide a basis for considering water manage-
ment in the mold of institutional design.
If "needs" for water, defined in economic terms as the total
amount taken by all users when price (user cost) is zero, are small
relative to available supplies, then water is not a scarce commodity,
there is no necessity to choose among competing users, and sophisti-
cated institutional arrangements for water management are unnecessary.
Such a situation characterized the early years of water use in
the eastern United States. The institutional framework for resolving
such conflicts as did arise consisted, broadly speaking, of common
law water rights doctrines which evolved over time in custom and case
law. When localized instances of scarcity produced conflict between
individuals over some aspect of water use, the case was settled in
court. While water was abundant relative to demands for it, such
conflicts over use rarely occurred.
As population increased and water use increased, greater attention
to the time and place aspects of water use became important. Various
government agencies were established to plan water management
facilities. They were supported by generous infusions of federal
capital for flood control, reservoir construction, and treatment
facilities. Such measures alleviated impending scarcity, and avoided
the need to choose among competing uses of limited water supplies.
The loosely structured common law doctrines were adequate to handle
such problems as did arise.
In some parts of the eastern United States, however, water is
becoming a truly scarce resource, conflicts over its allocation are
arising, and the efficacy of common law doctrines as a viable insti-
tutional framework for water management are in question. In Florida,
a system of administrative water law has been superimposed on the pre-
existing body of custom and case law. This instance of institutional
change invites evaluation in terms of the role of resource institutions,
and criteria for the performance of resource institutions.
Common Law Doctrines: An Institutional.Evaluation
Under an early and strict interpretation of the "riparian
doctrine", owners of land adjoining a navigable stream or lake in
Florida were entitled to the full natural flow without change in
quality or quantity. Non-riparians were allowed to use the water (not v
the shoreline) for fishing and navigation. Eventually case law and
usage established that users were allowed to make "reasonable use" of
the water. A use was "reasonable" if it did not unduly interfere with
the "reasonable" use of the other users.
Early groundwater doctrine in Florida considered groundwater below
an individual's land to be absolutely owned by the landowner. The
owner of land could extract or otherwise interfere with the natural
movement of water through soil and aquifers without accounting to
others who may have been effected. This doctrine evolved through
custom and case law to require that landowners apportion the common
groundwater supply. A landowner could make reasonable use of
groundwater supplies beneath his property, subject to the co-equal and
co-extensive rights of affected landowners.
As a decision framework for accommodating partisan interests with
respect to the use of water, the doctrines have severe limitations.
Resolution of conflicts over resource use requires case-by-case
consideration through the court system. As the number of cases
increase this method becomes cumbersome and costly as a means of
settling disputes. Moreover, the common law approach places a burden
of proof on injured parties, with the result that a user of water is
free to do as he pleases until someone takes action to stop him.
As a framework for decisionmaking, the common law doctrines do
not structure incentives and disincentives for individual water users
in a manner which causes private interests and public interests to
coincide. In the first place, the public goals are not clearly
specified other than through the nebulous criterion of "reasonableness".
Moreover, water under the common law doctrines has a "public goods"
status in the sense that a given body of water, either surface or
groundwater, belongs jointly to all riparians or to owners of con-
tiguous property. Under such an arrangement, no one owner has a
positive incentive to conserve water since he is unable to appropriate
the benefits of his actions. Especially when effective- demand far
exceeds physical supplies, the common property nature of water is
likely to lead to excessive withdrawals of surface or groundwater
Common law doctrines perform poorly as a decision framework within
which economic supplies of water are reconciled with economic demand
as conditions change over time. The economics of water supply are
heavily influenced by geohydrologic relationships. Economics of water
demand change over time and space in response to changes in population,
income, and perhaps other factors. As economic demand begins to exceed
supplies made available,'water becomes a truly scarce resource. An
institutional framework keying on "reasonableness" as a criterion for
allocation, and litigation as a mechanism for decisionmaking works
adequately when water is abundant, but adjusts not at all when water
becomes relatively scarce.
From the standpoint of information costs, litigation as a decision
framework for water allocation under conditions of scarcity performs
poorly. It uses only such information as the litigants volunteer,
and/or the court requires, and then uses the information only in
connection with a very narrowly prescribed range of decisions.
Common law doctrines as an institutional framework for resource
allocation hardly provide a context for considering'enforcement costs.
The publicly accepted goal with respect to water management is
"reasonable" use, and the mechanism for assessing and enforcing
compliance with this goal is litigation and court order. This is a
relatively cumbersome and costly mode of enforcing compliance with the
decision rules which comprise the institutional framework. When few
conflicts over water use arise, little need exists for a more efficient
432 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
enforcement mechanism. When water becomes relatively scarce, the
potential for conflict is greater, and an efficient enforcement
mechanism becomes more important.
Administrative Law: An Institutional Change
The Florida experience may serve as a case in point to illustrate
and evaluate the move away from the riparian system and towards an
administrative system of water law. Central to the Florida law is
the declaration that "...all waters in the state are subject to
regulation..." [1, Part 1, Sec. 4] in a manner which enhances public
and private rights in water. The Act also creates the necessary
administrative framework to carry out its intentions. In Florida this
was accomplished by establishing five water management districts along
hydrologic lines. Each district has a water management agency governed
by a nine man appointed board and charged with the management of water
in the district. The districts have broad powers including ad valorem
taxing authority, the authority to plan for the future use of water,
and the authority to implement the permitting of the consumptive use
of water. Conditions for such permitting are spelled out in the state
legislation. A permitted use must be "reasonable and beneficial" and
not interfere with other permitted uses.1 Two of the five Florida
districts currently have permitting systems in operation and the other
three have them in the planning stage. The districts also have the
authority to establish priorities and order cutbacks during periods
of extreme water shortages.
The above is far from a detailed description of administrative
water law in Florida. However, it will suffice for purposes of
comparing administrative water law to custom and case law for allo-
cating resources. In effect the administrative system offers a major
second-level change in terms of the institutional framework presented
earlier. This change did little to alter the common property nature
of the resource. However, it did offer a significant improvement over
the riparian system in that the water management agency is charged
with a long-term concern for resource management. In this respect
the agencies have full authority to inventory the water resource,
determine safe yields, and take other actions designed to prevent
the overuse of the resource.
In practice one can find little to fault the actions of the water
management agencies in Florida in carrying out this portion of their
responsibilities. From the institutional standpoint water managers
are discharging the part of their role referred to by Trelease  as
the "wise administrator" in his earlier writings on the model water
code. However, in discharging the other part of his responsibilities--
the allocation of water through consumptive use permitting--the agencies
encounter controversy. It is here that an institutional flaw of the
1Reasonable and beneficial is defined as, "...the use of water in
such quantity as is necessary for economic and efficient utilization
for a purpose and in a manner which is both reasonable and consistent
with the public interest".
administrative legal system resides. In the following sections this
argument is expanded in terms of the institutional framework de-
veloped earlier, and the potential for institutional design to overcome
this flaw is discussed.
An evaluation of the administrative water law institution can
usefully proceed from an examination of the position of the individual
water user. Under common law, the user was essentially free to take
water as desired until some other entitled water user complained.
Under administrative law with consumptive use permitting, the user
must apply for a permit prior to use. In essence, a potential water
user under the administrative system has a less exclusive right to water
than does the riparian landowner. From the standpoint of property
rights this represents a significant change in the position of the
user. The user's position may be further altered depending on
whether or not he is required to prove the "reasonable and beneficial"
nature of his proposed use. However, once the entitlement is
established under the permitting system, the user has a more certain
claim on available water supplies, assuming that the water management
district acts in good faith to protect the permits it issues.
The permitting authority and process, coupled with responsibility
and authority to plan for water use within the district, represent
improvements in the ability of the institutional framework to generate
and use information more effectively. They also improved on the
ability of the institution to accommodate partisan interests, even
as these change over time, by enabling the decision process to antici-
pate conditions of scarcity and sources of competing demands.
Whether these improvements in institutional design lead to
improvements in performance may depend upon the manner in which the
water management authority deals with one remaining problem of insti-
tutional design: reducing divergence between private and public
interests. Even with the planning function and the permitting
authority, there is no guarantee that individual behavior will be
influenced in the desired way without difficult and expensive
enforcement of consumptive use limitations. The common property nature
of the resource still exists, and there is little reason to believe
that individual water users will behave differently than under custom
and case law. There is little reason for individual users either to
conserve water or to worry about the cost which their water use imposes
on others. In fact, if use is regulated by permit, there seem to be
ample motivation for applicants to overstate their water requirements
in order to establish their need for consideration during times of
While the substitution of a central agency for the court system
should greatly increase the efficiency of handling claims to water,
the need to choose among competing claims persists. Potential users
are no more likely to acquiesce in the outcome when their claim to
water is denied with administrative efficiency than when it is denied
after costly litigation. Moreover, once permits are issued and
investments are made by water users, water management authorities will
experience increasing resistance to any attempt to reallocate water
to new uses. These considerations are especially important, given
the fact that the same political process which created administrative
water law can also move to change it.
Thus the.creation of the management agency does seem to offer a
434 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
significant improvement over common law doctrines alone. However,
from an institutional perspective, administrative water law has some
Concluding Comments: Potential for Further
This paper has proposed an analytical approach to the design
of institutions for water management. To aid in such an approach,
the nature and function of institutional arrangements were discussed,
the idea of institutional performance was introduced, and the common
law and administrative systems of water law were evaluated in insti-
tutional terms. Although the latter was deemed superior, both systems
were observed to have major weaknesses with respect to their ability
to resolve conflicts over resource use in a manner which harmonizes
public and private interests under conditions of resource scarcity.
However, once the existence of the central management authority is
given, the potentials for institutional design are not exhausted and
an analytical approach to the examination of alternatives can aid
water managers in avoiding the institutional pitfalls noted earlier.
Perhaps the first and most important step in this direction is an
explicit recognition of the fact that when water is a scarce commodity,
there is little justification for allowing users to treat it as a
free good. Such a recognition brings the question of choice to the
forefront and leads to an examination of ways to make the choice--
Depending on the degree of scarcity, the set of possible alterna-
tives open to the management authority could range from pleas to
conserve water during periods of minor shortages to highly structured
and sophisticated water markets for the long-run allocation of water.
To the extent that the alternative chosen relies on decentralized
decisionmaking the enforcement and information costs of the management
authority may be reduced. On the other hand, highly centralized and
detailed regulatory schemes which tend to bypass first-level decision-
making are likely to involve prohibitively high enforcement costs.
In any case, however, the final decision must rest on the predicted
ability of the institutional arrangement to resolve conflict over
resource use, and to harmonize public and private interests in pursuit
of societal goals over time.
 Florida Water Resource Act of 1972, Florida Statutes 373,013,
 Godwin, R. Kenneth and W. Bruce Shepard. "State Land Use
Policies: Winners and Losers", Oregon State University,
Corvallis, Oregon, November 1974.
 Goldberg, Victor P. "Institutional Change and the Quasi-Invisible
Hand". The Journal of Law and Economics. 17:2, October 1974,
 Maloney, Frank E., Richard C. Ausness, and J. Scott Morris.
A Model Water Code, University of Florida Press, Gainesville,
 Schmid, A. Allen. "Analytical Institutional Economics:
Challenging Problems in the Economics of Resources for a New
Environment". American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
54:5, p. 893.
 Trelease, Frank J. "The Model Water Code, the Wise Administrator
and the Goddam Bureaucrat", Natural Resource Journal, Vol. 14,
April 1974, pp. 207-229.
 Wantrup, S.V. Ciriacy. "Water Policy and Economic Optimizing:
Some Conceptual Problems In Water Research". American Economic
Review. 55:2, May 1967, pp. 179-189.
 Wantrup, S.V. Ciriacy. "Natural Resources in Economic Growth:
The Role of Institutions and Policies". American Journal of
Agricultural Economics. 51:5, December 1969, p. 1320.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT: A GUIDE FOR CIVIL ENGINEERS
Billy L. Edge*, Member, ASCE
Each segment of the population, if not each individual, has a sin-
gular idea of the importance of the coastal zone. To some, it is a
place where their children can build sand castles while experiencing
the wonders of nature at the water's edge, from breaking waves to the
flying aerobatics of brown pelicans. For others, the coastal zone of-
fers the opportunity to tan their healthy vibrant bodies. Middle-aged
people flock to the shore seeking a quiet relaxing vacation away from
the rigors of work and the doldrums of daily life. And, of course, our
more senior citizens also flock to the beach in their Winnebagos and
Airstreams to swap stories and reflect on their past successes and ac-
complishments. But these users of the coastal zone are by and large
transients; what about those who live and work in the coastal areas?
When you consider all the various activities which occur in the Nation's
coastal areas, the idea that our shorelines are for vacationers only is
shortsighted. The oceanfront of the United States is, in many respects,
the Nation's most valuable geographic feature. Where land and sea meet
is where the greater part of this Nation's trade and industry occur.
Moreover, the waters off our shore and in our estuaries, are among the
biologically productive regions of the Nation. And it is under these
same waters where the last great frontier for badly needed natural re-
sources such as oil and natural gas are located. In short, the coastal
areas of this country are both substantial in size and important in
To emphasize this idea, consider the following facts. The seven
largest metropolitan areas of this country are on a seacoast or the
Great Lakes' shoreline. Consider further that 40 percent of the Nation's
industrial complexes are located in coastal areas. Over one-half of
the U.S. population currently lives in coastal counties. Projections
by the Bureau of Census indicate that this figure will increase to al-
most 80 percent by the year 2000.
Accordingly, there exists the need to ensure that the Nation's
shorelines are kept environmentally sound and ecologically safe. At the
same time, it is necessary to develop plans for providing adequate sea-
side recreational opportunities, for improving our seaports and for ac-
*Professor, Clemson Hydraulics Laboratory, Department of Civil Engi-
neering, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29631
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT
commodating industrial growth and resource development. To this end,
Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. And with this
legislation, the concept of Coastal Zone Management, or CZM as it is
most often called, became a working tool for all people concerned with
the orderly growth and development of this country's coastal areas.
Now the question arises, "where does the civil engineer fit into
the CZM picture?" He has always had a vital role in the protection and
development of coastal resources, but to continue being effective to
society, his profession and his client, he must deal with coastal zone
management directly. Before discussing mechanisms through which civil
engineers can become involved in coastal zone management, consider first
the characteristics of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.
WHAT IS COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT?
In the beginning most people, and engineers, felt that coastal zone
management had to do with protecting shorelines from erosion so that the
coastal zone was not lost. Then waste water management and estuarine
water quality became a part of coastal zone management at least from
the engineering perspective. Coastal zone management no longer has
such a narrow scope; it is indeed a very broad multiple use concept.
Consider first why the coasts are so unique as compared with water-
front throughout the Nation. The coasts are unique and important in
three distinct ways: attractiveness, productivity, and usefulness.
There is probably no other piece of our national geography that is as
valuable as the place where the land and the water meet. It turns out
to be a very attractive place. Americans in ever larger numbers take
their recreation at the shoreline. Secondly, the mixing of salt and
fresh water of course produces unusual levels of biological produc-
tivity from phytoplankton to fin fish. So the unusual productive
characteristics caused by mixing of different kinds of water is the
second unique aspect. Obviously, the third aspect is utiliterian in
terms of marine transport (the cheapest kind of surface transportation
is marine transport), cooling water for power plants, and other in-
What this all means, of course, is that people want to live there,
people want to play there, people want to work there, people want to
develop there and other folks want to protect against harm to the
natural areas of the coast. Why is this a problem? In our country,
we have a market system which tends to allocate scarce resources when
there are competing demands. Why doesn't the market system work in
allocating coastal resources? It fails for two important reasons.
First, it fails because private property ajoins public property at the
water's edge and private decisions, if they are made in an unfettered
way, could cause public losses losses to the resources in the public
domain, that is, in the inter-tidal areas of the coastal waters; it is
this interface between private and public property that causes problems
in terms of allocation. Secondly, the access of the publically owned
beach should be available to all, yet if there were unfettered owner-
ship and restriction allowed, indeed the richest 1% of the people could
own the entire U.S. shoreline and leave the other 99% of us without ac-
cess to what is publically and rightfully our own.
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
CZM is a broad concept. It covers local desires and States' rights
and provides for Federal oversight to ensure that important national
interests are met. The original Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972
has undergone important changes. As amended in 1974 and 1976, the
Coastal Zone Management Act clearly recognizes that certain activities
need to be given priority consideration in any CZM program.
The original act was signed into law in a burst of concern over
our environment and before our mounting energy problems and other na-
tional needs were as clear as they are today. Although everyone agrees
that improving or maintaining our environment is important, it has be-
come increasingly clear that CZM was designed not only to preserve our
coastal areas, but also to use and develop them in an orderly way. Ac-
cordingly, CZM embraces all three goals. Placing particular emphasis
on any one of them would defeat the purpose of the legislation and,
more importantly, would diminish the total benefits which all of us
reap from the coastal zone.
STATE CZM PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
The intention of the original CZM Act of 1972 was to create a pro-
gram under which the states could plan and manage their coastal re-
sources. To this end, the Act provided the states financial assistance
to help cover the costs of developing a multiple use plan.
To qualify for Federal funds, the states must meet four basic re-
quirements. Firstly, the state management program must first identify
the boundaries of its coastal zone and define which land and water uses
the program will attempt to manage in that area. In addition, the
state must designate and list geographical areas of particular concern
within the coastal zone. A few examples of areas that should be in-
cluded under this requirement are ecologically fragile wetlands or
highly productive spawning grounds and areas especially suitable for
Secondly, the state program must then identify the types of con-
trol it will use to protect certain coastal areas as well as ensure the
appropriate utilization and development of resources within the coastal
zone boundaries. The state must also establish broad guidelines on
priorities of uses in designated areas. And under this requirement,
the state must specifically include those uses having the lowest priori-
Thirdly, the state is asked to designate uses within that zone
that are more than local concern, for example, refineries, power plants,
or sewage treatment plants; uses that are of more than local concern.
Fourthly, before the Secretary of Commerce can approve a state's pro-
gram, she must find that local governments are not in a position to
arbitrarily restrict uses or regional benefit and that the state has
adequately considered the national interest in the siting of facilities'
designed to meet more than the local needs. Therefore, the local
governments cannot foreclose or arbitrarily restrict uses that are of
more than local and regional concern, and the state itself cannot re-
strict uses that are of national concern. Additionally, the Act re-
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT
quires the state to define the term "beach" and develop a planning pro-
cess for protecting public beaches and other coastal areas of recre-
tional, historical and similar people-oriented values. Included in
this requirement is the stipulation that the state must ensure public
access to these areas. On the other hand, the Act, as amended, requires
that the state program create a planning process to accommodate energy
facilities that are either likely to be located in the coastal zone or
which would have a significant impact on the coastal zone. The state
program must include at a bare minimum measures for anticipating
and managing the impact of energy facilities.
According to the amendments of 1976, shoreline erosion must also
be considered in the state CZM program. The state is required to de-
velop a process for assessing the effects of erosion as well as de-
veloping methods to lessen the impact of it and to restore areas af-
fected by shoreline erosion.
The list of interested parties in the development of the state
CZM program will vary from state to state. But, the state must give
the opportunity for full participation in the development process to
public and private groups, relevant Federal agencies, other state
agencies that might be affected by the CZM program and any local juri-
dictions or regional organizations involved with the coastal zone
area, including port authorities. If this is done, the final approved
state CZM program should reflect the thinking and opinions of all the
people it is designed to serve.
To ensure that the interests of all parties are considered in
developing a state's CZM program, the original Act requires that the
participating state establish a means for continuous consultation and
coordination between the state management agency and all appropriate
private organizations, public groups, public agencies and local govern-
ments. Additionally, the state must hold public hearings on its pro-
posed program before it can be approved by the Department of Commerce.
After development of the state program and adoption by the state
legislature, the Governor of the state must then review and approve
both the program and any subsequent changes made by the legislature.
The Governor also is given the responsibility for designating a single
agency within the state to administer and implement the CZM plan.
Now, how do we civil engineers make input into our state's coastal
zone management plan?
PARTICIPATING IN CZM
How can we as individuals get involved in coastal zone management?
Here are eight easy steps:
a) Call your state coastal office and get on their mailing list
b) Attend any meetings in your area
c) Get your group involved request a presentation to your group
d) Ask questions of the decisions being made force accounta-
e) Offer your services to the coastal office in your state
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
f) If you are a leader in some area demand that your group be
involved in advisory committees, work groups, permit reviews,
g) Keep your legislator (state and national) informed on your
views vis-a-vis letters, phone calls, and interviews. All
legislators feel this program affects their constituents.
h) If you have contacts in industry and environmental groups,
offer ways to get the groups together. Force a dialogue.
CZM offers that mechanism.
As engineers, scientists, and planners, particularly, you can have
a real input to these programs. Decisions must be based on hard facts
and fair open debate. This cannot be done unless it is backed up by
expertise like yours. CZM decisions cross all lines of expertise,
and decision makers have a voracious appetite for data and information.
CZM decision makers need constantly to be challenged and kept honest
and open. It's easy to become imbred, and to lock out those divergent
The success or failure of your state's and the Nation's program
rests on us the public, the professional and the legislator. Federal
dollars will help; but they will not make the management decisions
effective or move the plans off the shelf and into the decision making
fabric. Politicians and program managers cannot make it a success.
They are there to serve us and we must make them work. Decisions will
not be made unless there is continual demand from the public and the
professional for these difficult decisions to be made.
Lastly, what can we, a professional society the American Society
of Civil Engineers offer the coastal zone management process? The
training and experience of civil engineers make us and ASCE an indis-
pensable part of the planning, decision making, and management pro-
cesses of CZM. We will be ignored if and only if we in the tradition
of engineering choose to stick our head in the sand. Then, how does
the Society, ASCE, make input to coastal zone management?
a) hold specialty conferences and short courses to educate
the members of the Society with interests in CZM;
b) invite the coastal office in your state to make a pre-
sentation to your section or branch;
c) offer the expertise of your section in reviewing your
state's CZM plan;
d) plan or encourage joint meetings between your ASCE section
and an environmental or conservation group to review
differences and commonalities of view;
e) draft resolutions on CZM to represent the views of your
branch or section to your state CZM plan;
f) develop resolutions and policy statements for the Board of
Directors to review and implement as official Society
positions. This should be done through the technical
committees of the Society;
g) offer your services to the Coastal Zone Management Committee
h) suggest and work with task committees of the Society to per-
form specific tasks in CZM within the Society.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT
Now, where do we stand as a Society -- what have we accomplished
in CZM? First, and most important, we have a technical committee on
CZM in the Waterways Division. Your services with this committee would
be appreciated. In March of this year, Coastal Zone '78 was held.
This specialty conference in which ASCE was the lead sponsor attacked
over 1200 attendees. Of that number, less than a third were engineers.
So ASCE has established itself as the lead professional society in
technology transfer vis-a-vis specialty conferences. The Society is
now planning for the next conference, Coastal Zone '80, which will be
even more interdisciplinary and larger in scope. Volunteers to assist
with this meeting at Hollywood, Florida, in November, 1980, are cur-
rently being solicited.
In conclusion, let me state that coastal zone management is a game
not always played by gentlemen's rules. The playing field is indeed a
battle ground where financial and corporate empires, political careers
and our coastal zone are at stake. Participation by the engineering
community in this process is necessary and vital to successful coastal
zone management based on sound scientific principles. Nevertheless,
participation in CZM does not guarantee that the final product will
reflect our engineering judgments. Because of this, our participation
in the process can be frustrating and at times difficult to follow
through. Yet, decisions will be made whether the engineering community
contributes or not. The mechanism for our contribution exists and
without our input, the decisions will be made under the pressure of the
strongest special interest groups. The special interest groups are al-
ready involved; it is time engineers became involved. I look forward to
seeing you on the battlefield. Your involvement is necessary if ef-
fective coastal zone management is to be achieved.
Hite, J. D. and J. M. Stepp, Coastal Zone Resource Management ,
Praeger Publishers, New York (1971).
Heikoff, J. M., Coastal Resource Management: Institutional Programs,
Ann Arbor Science (1977).
U.S. Congress, Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended,
86 Stat. 1280, as amended.
U.S. Congress, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended,
83 Stat. 852, as amended.
JOINT EXERCISE OF POWERS: A TOOL FOR STORMWATER
MANAGEMENT IN A MULTIJURISDICTIONAL SETTING
By John P. Hartigan, A.M.ASCE and Hugo A. Bonuccelli2
In urbanizing watersheds that enclose multiple jurisdictions,
the impacts of additional urban runoff on stream channels downstream
from jurisdictional boundaries are seldom evaluated by either the
upstream or downstream jurisdiction. In general, each political
subdivision within the multijurisdictional basin administers its own
land use planning and urban drainage programs with little regard for
the interrelationships among local land use decisions and regional
problems and solutions. The focus of local stormwater management
programs is often restricted to the urban runoff which originates
within each jurisdiction's boundaries, even though local drainage
programs may negate or be jeopardized by stormwater management
activities in neighboring political subdivisions.
Due to their limited focus, local stormwater management programs
within urbanizing multijurisdictional watersheds are often reparative
rather than preventive in nature. Major multijurisdictional runoff
controls may be required periodically to ameliorate spillover effects
which are not effectively addressed by local controls within the
watershed. Included among the spillover effects that have been known
to occur in multijurisdictional basins where fragmented approaches to
urban stormwater management exist are: (a) higher runoff volume and
peak flow rates that are adequately contained by local drainage
facilities, but exceed the capacity of downstream channels (2); (b)
downstream flooding caused by unforseen interactions of hydrographs
from local detention storage basins which adequately control local
runoff impacts (1,4); and (c) water quality problems in downstream
receiving waters that can. be attributed, in large part, to
uncontrolled nonpoint pollution from urban development in upstream
Innovative institutional mechanisms are required to provide a
setting in which local governments will feel inclined to manage the
multijurisdictional stormwater impacts of local land use decisions.
In sections of the country where regional programs are unpopular,
traditional institutions such as authorities and special districts
are often viewed as inflexible mechanisms that pose a sufficient
threat to local autonomy to prevent acceptance by multiple political
subdivisions. Regional stormwater management institutions that
promise to preserve the maximum amount of flexibility and local
autonomy can be expected to be the most politically acceptable and
1Director, Engineering-Planning Programs, Northern Virginia Planning
District Commission (NVPDC), Falls Church, Va.
2Chief, Impact Planning Systems Section, NVPDC
Scope of Paper
This paper describes the application of the "joint exercise of
powers" institution for urban stormwater management in the Four Mile
Run Watershed, a multijurisdictional basin that is tributary to the
Potomac River near Washington, D.C. Through the joint exercise of
powers institution, two or more jurisdictions may jointly exercise
any power, privilege, or authority which they are capable of
exercising individually. Although many states have enabling legisla-
tion which permits two or more jurisdictions to establish joint exer-
cise of powers (also called "joint powers" in some states) management
programs, the case study presented herein is one of the first examples
of the institution being used for stormwater management purposes.
In this paper, the procedure for developing the Four Mile Run
Watershed joint exercise of powers program is outlined, major
components of the stormwater management program are described, and
accomplishments to date are summarized. Advantages of the joint
exercise of powers approach to stormwater management in a
multijurisdictional setting are also outlined.
Development of Joint Exercies of Powers Program
As shown in Figure 1, the Four Mile Run Watershed encloses
portions of two counties and two cities that are located in the
Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. A breakdown of drainage area by
jurisdiction is shown in Table 1. As a result of intensive suburban
development which occurred within the 19.5 sq mi watershed following
World War II, much of the basin's natural drainage system has been
replaced by an elaborate storm sewer network. Approximately 36% of
the land surface within the watershed is currently blanketed with
Residential and commercial areas located near the mouth of Four
Mile Run sustained property damages totalling more than $40 million
as a result of seven floods between 1963 and 1975. The periodic
flash floods in this area have been attributed to the cumulative
impacts of sewered urban development in the basin's four
jurisdictions. The flood-prone area adjoins a three-mile segment of
the Four Mile Run channel that serves as the boundary between
Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Approximately 45% of
the flood-prone land is in Arlington County; 55% is in the City of
Alexandria. On the average, 25% of the recent flooding damages were
sustained by developments in Arlington County; 75% of the recent
damages were sustained by Alexandria land uses. The wide variation
in property damage between the two jurisdictions is due to the higher
residential densities and larger commercial centers found on the
Alexandria side of the Four Mile Run floodplain.
The Four Mile Run stormwater management problem was typical of
the one encountered by many multijurisdictional watersheds today. It
can be defined as follows: each of the four political subdivisions
administered its own land use planning and urban drainage programs
with little regard for the interrelationships among land use
decisions and regional flooding problems and solutions. The theme
underlying the large- and small-scale land use changes that
contributed to the watershed's flooding problem is also a familiar
one: the increased runoff volumes that accompanied urban development
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Figure 1. Generalized Map of Four Mile Run Watershed
----- atershed Boundary
------ Jurisdictional Boundary
m-- USACE Flood Control Project
O NWS Recording Raingage at National Airport
Main Stem USGS Stream Gage at Alexandria
0 2000 4000
Table 1. Drainage Area Breakdown by Jurisdiction
AREA % OF TOTAL
(so mi) AREA
City of Alexandria 3.0 15.55
City of Falls Church 0.7 3.48
Arlington County 13.7 70.27
Fairfax County 2.1 10.70
TOTAL 19.5 100.00
Figure 2. Four Mile Run Watershed Model: Idealized
.......... RUNOFF Conduit
S TRANSPORT Node
446 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
were transported downstream as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Members of local public works and land use planning staffs were
equipped with neither the analytical tools nor the institutional
mechanisms needed to assess and reduce the downstream impacts of
upstream land use changes.
In March 1974, Congress authorized a $49 million U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers' (USACE) flood control project that is designed to
provide protection from the 100-year streamflow event. The location
of the flood control project is shown in Figure 1. In order to
qualify for the USACE channelization and bridge replacement project,
the Four Mile Run jurisdictions--Fairfax County, Arlington County,
and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church--have been required by
Congress to develop and implement a basinwide stormwater management
program. This prerequisite is intended to assure that runoff from
future urban development in the watershed does not produce
streamflows which could impair the effectiveness of the federal flood
control improvements. In the Four Mile Run project, Congress
recognized an excellent opportunity to evaluate local structural and
non-structural control measures that can prolong the life of federal
structural controls. It is the first case in the history of USACE
flood control projects in which a basinwide stormwater management
stipulation has been attached to the commitment of federal funding.
In the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation, Fairfax County
and Falls Church agreed in April, 1974 to participate in the
development of a multijurisdictional stormwater management program so
that Arlington County and Alexandria could qualify for the federal
flood control project. The four jurisdictions requested that the
Northern Virginia Planning District Commission (NVPDC), the regional
planning agency for suburban Virginia, coordinate program
development. A nine-member Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)
composed of planners and public works engineers from the four
jurisdictions in the watershed was formed by NVPDC to guide program
A two-year study was required to produce a basinwide stormwater
management program that satisfied the Congressional requirement.
Initial stages of the NVPDC study focused on the technical, rather
than institutional requirements of a multijurisdictional stormwater
management program. Following the completion of the necessary
technical analyses and the development of required impact assessment
tools, an institutional mechanism for implementing the stormwater
management program was identified.
Selection of Impact Assessment Tools
The proximity of the Four Mile Run Watershed to downtown
Washington, D.C. makes its land area very susceptible to pressures
for high density development. Transportation facilities Ce.g., rapid
rail transit stations, interstate highway extensions, state highway
improvements) that are currently programmed for the watershed are
expected to subject upstream residential and strip commercial areas
to pressures for redevelopment into high-rise residential and
commercial-office land uses. Moreover, the existing Four Mile Run
floodplain is blanketed with aging residential and commercial areas
that are amenable to redevelopment at much higher densities.
Increased runoff from new development and redevelopment could
not only reduce USACE project benefits considerably, but it could
also destroy the Four Mile Run flood control structures.
Consequently, preliminary stages of the NVPDC effort were devoted to
identifying a planning tool for predicting and controlling increased
flood peaks that could accompany new development in the watershed.
Two alternatives were considered by the TAC: (1) formulation of
a regional land use plan for the ultimate development of the
watershed and local flood control programs to contain the projected
increase in streamflows; or (2) development of a computer-based
mathematical model of watershed hydrology that could be used by the
four jurisdictions to quantify and minimize the flooding impacts of
their future land use decisions.
The ultimate development plan approach was rejected by the TAC
because of serious political and technical shortcomings. The
political problems stemmed from the jurisdictions' fear that a
basinwide land use plan would destroy local autonomy. In particular,
the four jurisdictions were concerned that a regional development
plan might conflict with local land use planning objectives.
Technical objections to the alternative focused on its excessively
long planning period, the high degree of uncertainty associated with
ultimate development decisions, its implications for master planning
activities in other watersheds, and its general inflexibility.
The mathematical modeling approach was found to be much more
acceptable. The TAC selected the continuous simulation model STORM
(7) and the single-event model WREM (8) as the watershed planning
tools for the Four Mile Run program. Water Resources Engineers, Inc.
of Springfield, Virginia was retained by NVPDC to calibrate and apply
Applications of Impact Assessment Tools
STORM Model. STORM is a simple, inexpensive tool for screening
rainfall data so that a more complex model like WREM can be used
efficiently. Several years of hourly rainfall volumes are translated
into a long-term record of runoff flow rates by a modified version of
the rational formula that includes continuous computations of
available depression storage. Because STORM relies upon some of the
simple equations that were being applied by local public works
departments in the watershed, its application early in the Four Mile
Run study also helped to alleviate the anxieties about computerized
hydrologic models that were shared by most TAC members.
Seven floods that occurred during the period 1963-1972 were used
for model calibration (9). Depression storage values and runoff
coefficients for pervious and impervious areas were determined for
the calibration storms. Although STORM does not have any flood
routing capabilities, streamflows simulated at the main stem USGS
gaging station in Alexandria (14.3 sq mi drainage area) that is shown
in Figure 1 were within 12 percent of the measured peak flows for all
but one of the calibration floods. The surprisingly good results of
model applications to such a large drainage area led to the
conclusion that the Four Mile Run Watershed is ideally suited to
STORM because it possesses the following characteristics: (a) a
significant amount of impervious ground cover and an extensive
network of storm sewers and paved channels that cause very rapid
streamflow responses to rainfall; and (b) approximately a one-hour
travel time from its headwaters to the main stem USGS streamgage that
supports the use of hourly rainfall data and the modified rational
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Following calibration, STORM was used to review the 1922-1973
precipitation records at the National Airport raingage (see Figure 1)
for critical rainstorms (9). The application of pre-urbanization
rainstorms to the existing watershed land use pattern accomplished
the following objectives: (a) adjustment of recorded streamflows at
the main stem streamgage to account for the impacts of urban
development that had occurred since an original streamflow
observation was made; and (b) generation of a maximum annual
streamflow record for the 29-year period (1922-1950) that preceded
the installation of the USGS main stem streamgage in 1951. Analysis
of the maximum annual streamflows for the 52-year simulation period
revealed that none of the historical rainfall events yields a main
stem gage streamflow peak with a recurrence interval in excess of 40
years. Since the 22,500 cfs design flow for the USACE flood control
channel reach that adjoins the USGS gaging station is associated with
a recurrence interval of 100 years, it was decided that the design
storm event for model WREM analyses would have to be synthesized by a
standard'technique, rather than be selected from the historical
The Kiefer and Chu method (3) was used to translate the 100-year
rainfall intensity-duration-frequency curve at the National Airport
raingage into a watershed design storm. The design rainfall event is
a very intense thunderstorm, four hours in length, and slightly
skewed toward the receding limb. After point rainfall intensity
corrections and adjustments for long-term areal variations within the
watershed had been applied to the storm, model STORM applications
showed that this design event generated a peak streamflow (19,500
cfs) at the main stem USGS gage which was significantly greater than
those associated with historical rainfall events. Consequently, this
design event was selected for the basinwide stormwater management
WREM Model. The WREM model, a second generation of the USEPA
Storm Water Management Model, generates streamflow peaks for
individual rainstorms. The model consists of three major programs
which are executed sequentially: (a) Land Use Management (LUM)
Program, which converts land use into impervious ground cover; (b)
RUNOFF, which converts rainfall into surface runoff and routes
overland flow through minor conduits; and (c) TRANSPORT, which routes
RUNOFF hydrographs through the major open and closed conduits in the
An advantage of model WREM is its sophisticated hydraulic
routing capabilities, which enable it to represent open and closed
conduits of varying cross-section as well as elements such as
orifices and weirs. A number of runoff control measures can also be
simulated, including wet and dry ponds, parking lot and rooftop
ponding, seepage pits, and porous pavement.
As shown in Figure 2, the Four Mile Run Watershed was subdivided
S into 179 RUNOFF subcatchments that average approximately 70 acres in
size. Some subcatchments drain directly to TRANSPORT inlet points.
Others drain directly to one of the 97 idealized RUNOFF conduits (see
Figure 2) that represent the minor storm sewers and open channels in
the watershed. By relating data derived from 175 sample sites to
zoning requirements in the basin's four jurisdictions, a total of 49
impervious ground cover classifications were defined for the
following LUM land use categories: open space, low density
residential (0-8 DU/A), medium density residential (9-13 DU/A), high
density residential (14-55 DU/A), commercial-office, school,
industrial, and government-institutional. Average values for slope,
width, infiltration rate (i.e., hydrologic soil group), depression
storage, and Manning's roughness coefficient were defined for the
overland flow plane of each runoff subcatchment. LUM calculates the
impervious ground cover acreage for each RUNOFF subcatchment and
stores the data on disk file for use in the execution of the RUNOFF
TRANSPORT routes the hydrographs generated by RUNOFF through the
major channels to the mouth of Four Mile Run. The program solves the
equations of motion and continuity by a finite difference approach
which requires subdividing the drainage system into a system of
"channels" and "nodes".
Channels transport streamflow from one point to another, and
they are idealized in most cases as regular elements of constant
cross-section, slope, and roughness. As shown in Figure 2, Four Mile
Run and its major tributaries are represented in TRANSPORT by 101
"equivalent channels." Nodes are the points between which channels
move water. For each time step in the solution of the necessary
equations of hydromechanics, flow rates are computed in the channels
and water surface elevations are defined at the nodes.
The Four Mile Run floods of 1969 and 1972 were selected for
model calibration (9). Simulated streamflow peaks at the main stem
gaging station on Four Mile Run compared well with field estimates,
falling within 3%-6% of observed values. Discrepancies identified at
some of the upstream gaging stations were attributed to local
variations in rainfall data. Detailed descriptions of the
formulation and calibration of the Four Mile Run version of WREM are
provided elsewhere (2,6).
Following calibration, model WREM was designated as the
principal impact assessment tool for the Four Mile Run Watershed
stormwater management program. Proposed land use changes and
drainage improvement projects can be assessed with the model and the
design storm to determine whether or not the associated runoff
changes impair the effectiveness of the USACE flood control channel.
Development of an Institutional Framework
After the impact assessment tools had been calibrated and
procedures for model application had been finalized, alternative
stormwater management institutions that could be established with
existing State enabling legislation were evaluated by the TAC.
Emphasis was placed on institutions that not only were suited to
multijurisdictional watersheds but also promised to provide an
effective framework for the application of the basinwide impact
assessment tool. The following institutions were considered by the
TAC: (a) drainage district; (b) water and sewer authority; (c)
sanitary authority; (d) soil and water conservation district; (e)
watershed improvement district; (f) special service district; and (g)
joint exercise of powers.
The drainage district concept was rejected by the TAC because
its stormwater management powers were heavily weighted in favor of
drainage construction activities. The runoff management powers of
450 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
the water and sewer authority and the sanitary district were also
found to be too limited for the multijurisdictional runoff management
program. The powers associated with the soil and water conservation
district and the watershed improvement district were found to be very
appropriate for the Four Mile Run runoff management program; however,
these institutions were considered to be politically infeasible
because they would require the delegation.of land use planning
related powers to an independently elected board of directors. While
a special service district could have fulfilled the technical
requirements of the management program, Virginia law prohibits
the creation of such an entity in one portion of a regional planning
district unless such action is preceded by the dissolution of the
planning district commission. Consequently, the establishment of a
special service district for the Four Mile Run Watershed was also
regarded as a politically infeasible alternative.
Although it had not been previously utilized for water resources
planning and management programs in the State of Virginia, the joint
exercise of powers institution (Section 15.1-21 of the Code of
Virginia) was selected by the TAC for the Four Mile Run program
because it was found to be both technically and politically
acceptable. The TAC viewed the joint exercise of powers
institution as an extremely flexible tool for implementing the
basinwide stormwater management program. Unlike many of the other
institutions that were evaluated, joint exercise of powers permits
the four jurisdictions in the basin to preserve local autonomy while
jointly exercising specified powers. Since the participating
political subdivisions can easily maintain control over the pace at
which a joint exercises of powers program evolves, it was viewed as
a particularly appropriate runoff management institution for an area
where local elected officials are somewhat apprehensive about new
regional programs. The ability to use staff from the existing
regional planning agency (NVPDC) enhanced the institution's
attractiveness because it not only eliminated the need to create a
separate agency to direct the day-to-day activities of the basinwide
stormwater management program but also allowed the four participating
jurisdictions to achieve significant economies-of-scale by pooling
their resources to provide the annual budget for the program.
Participating jurisdictions are required to enter into such a
cooperative arrangement by resolution or ordinance. The cooperative
arrangement is instituted by a written agreement that must specify
the following characteristics of the multijurisdictional program and
its governing board: duration, purpose, organization, powers,
members, financing, and method of termination. The membership of the
governing board may be composed of elected officials, local staff
members, or appointed officials from the member jurisdictions.
Features of Joint Exercise of Powers Program
On March 31, 1977, the four jurisdictions in the watershed
executed a joint exercise of powers Memorandum of Agreement that
established the Four Mile Run Watershed Stormwater Management
Program. As defined in the Memorandum of Agreement, participation in
the program requires: (a) the provision of local runoff controls for
all future "drainage modification projects" (i.e., projects that
involve a change in the watershed land use or drainage system),
hereinafter referred to as DMP's, to minimize downstream flooding
impacts; (b) financial participation in a basinwide impact assessment
program that relies upon the model WREM; (c) periodic review of all
drainage modification projects with the impact assessment tool WREM
to project cumulative impacts of local land use changes and drainage
improvements; and (d) implementation of structural and/or
nonstructural corrective measures to nullify any USACE channel
flooding projected by the impact assessment tool WREM. To assure
that the impact assessments assume a multijurisdictional perspective,
the Memorandum of Agreement has established a watershed policy board
and technical committee to administer the program.
DMP review powers that have been delegated to the program's
policy board by the Memorandum of Agreement include: (a) the
quarterly review of cumulative flooding impacts with the model WREM
to determine whether or not adverse changes in downstream flow
conditions might result; and (b) the issuance of corrective measure
recommendations in the event that adverse impacts are forecast.
Administrative powers that have been delegated to the policy board by
the Memorandum of Agreement include: (a) the development and
adoption of an annual work program/budget for the management program;
(b) the retention and supervision of technical staff; and (c) the
provision of technical assistance to participating jurisdictions.
Technical and administrative support for the program is provided
by NVPDC. The annual operating budget for Watershed Management
Program activities is approximately $50,000.
Runoff Management Board. The policy board, known as the Runoff
Management Board, is composed of the chief administrative officers
from the watershed's four jurisdictions and the Executive Director of
NVPDC. Each chief administrative officer has one vote. NVPDC serves
as secretariat for the Runoff Management Board and its Executive
Director serves as non-voting chairman.
The Board oversees the operations of the Watershed Management
Program. It meets at least once a year to review the annual report
of the technical committee and to adopt an operating budget for the
ensuing fiscal year. The Board may be convened at any other time at
the request of any Board member to resolve runoff management policy
issues resulting from the technical committee's deliberations.
Technical Review Committee. The technical committee, known as
the Technical Review Cdmmittee, is composed of one local public work-
engineer from each of the watershed's jurisdictions and a
representative of the NVPDC staff. Each local member has one vote.
NVPDC serves as secretariat for the Committee and its representative
acts as non-voting chairman.
The Technical Review Committee is responsible for conducting the
technical investigations required to determine the downstream impacts
of proposed drainage modification projects. It meets at least once
per quarter to review documentation on local projects proposed for
the watershed. Individual and cumulative impacts are projected with
the model WREM and the design storm.
A jurisdiction sponsoring a DMP proposal shown to generate
runoff increases that cause excessive streamflows within the flood
control channel is required to implement corrective measures in
accordance with a schedule that must be reviewed by the Technical
Review Committee. If the Committee fails to reach an agreement on
the impact of any proposal or series of proposals, or if any
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
jurisdiction wishes to contest a Committee decision, a special
session of the Runoff Management Board is convened to resolve the
The Committee is also responsible for the preparation of a
Quarterly Report which includes documentation on the individual and
aggregate impacts of all DMP's and corrective measures that have been
reviewed during the previous quarter, and on the schedule for
provision of any outstanding corrective measures. The reports are
forwarded to the Runoff Management Board, local boards of supervisors
and city councils, the USACE Baltimore District Engineer and other
Impact Assessment Procedures
At the end of each quarter, the local jurisdictions submit
standardized forms to NVPDC summarizing all drainage modification
projects (DMP's) approved during the preceding three-month period.
Local site plan review processes have been altered to insure that
appropriate data on DMP's is submitted in a form suitable for
incorporation into the computer-based watershed model. If a
jurisdiction suspects that a particular project may cause negative
impacts, it can request a separate assessment, funded by the
developer, prior to local site plan approval.
Upon receipt of the summaries, NVPDC assignes each DMP to one of
two categories for impact assessment. Projects which are less than
two acres in size are assigned to a Parameter Adjustment File. These
small projects are allowed to accumulate within one of the idealized
model subcatchments until a sufficient number are present to warrant
adjustment of the parameters describing the subcatchment in the
model. Assessments of larger DMP's are based on the following
procedure, which permits detailed representations of DMP's while
requiring only a temporary enlargement of the watershed model: (1)
the subcatchment(s) enclosing the DMP are extracted from the
watershed model; (2) a detailed SITE model of the DMP and the
.residual subcatchment is developed to permit an in-depth analysis of
local conditions; (3) the extracted subcatchment(s) is replaced in
the watershed model by hydrograph(s) generated by the detailed SITE
model, and the watershed model is executed with the design storm to
define projected impacts in the USACE flood control channel; (4) if
negative impacts are noted, the SITE model is used to evaluate the
effectiveness of onsite control measures, and downstream impacts are
checked by repeating step 3 with the modified SITE model
Accomplishments of Stormwater Management Program
Impact Assessments. During the first year of the Stormwater
Management Program, 123 DMP's were reviewed. Of this total, 80 were
individual homesites. In all, 68 DMP's have been incorporated into
the watershed model, including 35 single family dwellings. Three
SITE models have been developed. The DMP's incorporated into the
watershed model represent the addition of approximately 20 acres of
impervious cover and 19 runoff control measures providing a total of
1.2 acre-ft of detention storage. Assessments of cumulative impacts
with the model WREM and the design storm indicated that the addition
of the DMP's to the watershed would not cause the capacity
(22,500-27,000 cfs) of the USACE flood control channel to be exceeded
in any reach.
In addition to the required quarterly review of cumulative
runoff impacts, a number of preliminary impact assessment studies
were undertaken during this period to identify the most
cost-effective stormwater management schemes for DMP proposals. At
the request of the sponsoring jurisdictions, preliminary SITE model
studies of three DMP's were carried out with funds provided by
private developers. In two cases, onsite runoff control measures
were deemed unnecessary. As a result of the third study, two of the
jurisdictions have agreed to construct an offsite stormwater
detention pond at a highway crossing which serves as a mutual
A five-mile segment of Interstate Highway 66, which traverses
the headwaters of the Four Mile Run Watershed (see Figure 2), was
also subjected to a preliminary impact assessment study which was
funded by the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation.
The 1-66 project involves the addition of approximately 100 acres of
impervious surfaces and stream channel improvements to 16
subcatchments in the watershed model data set. The SITE model
constructed to represent the highway project is the most detailed
formulation produced to date for the Management Program. It consists
of 70 idealized conduits and 99 model subcatchments with an average
size of approximately three acres. In addition, several
modifications to the watershed model's TRANSPORT network were
required to represent related improvements proposed for stream
channels downstream from the highway project. Initial watershed
model assessments indicated that the original 1-66 stormwater
management scheme, which included one detention pond with 11.5 acre-ft
of storage capacity, promised to adequately control flooding in the
vicinity of the highway project. However, changes in the time to
peak and recession limb of the post-development hydrograph for the
Lubber Run sub-basin were projected to cause substantial impacts
within the USACE flood control channel. Following a series of
watershed model evaluations of alternative runoff control levels, it
was determined that a major diversion structure and two detention
ponds with a total storage capacity of approximately 20 acre-ft were
required to adequately address projected downstream impacts. If the
Four Mile Run Stormwater Management Program were not in existence,
these supplemental controls would not have been considered since the
original highway drainage scheme addressed localized, rather than
multijurisdictional impacts of 1-66.
Basinwide Stormwater Management Guidelines. During the first
year of the Management Program, the watershed model was used to
formulate guidelines regarding locational differences in the
downstream impact of land use change and the use of uniform
stormwater detention requirements throughout the basin.
Locational differences in urban runoff impacts were evaluated by
using the watershed model to assess the downstream response to
impervious cover additions in various sections of the basin. A
hypothetical DMP consisting of ten acres of impervious cover was
rotated among 23 model subcatchments and resultant peak flow
increases in the flood control channel were compared. The results
indicate that, for the Management Program design storm, the middle
and upper middle portions of the watershed are the most sensitive to
increases in impervious cover. The headwater area and the lowermost
454 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
portions of the watershed appear to be least sensitive. Urban
development within the least sensitive subcatchments can be expected
to require less intensive runoff controls than development within the
most sensitive sections of the basin. The guidelines produced by the
sensitivity study are currently being utilized by local planning
staffs to formulate general urban development policies for the basin.
Recent modeling studies of runoff control measure efficiencies
have permitted an assessment of the uniform detention requirements
included in the stormwater management ordinances of the Four Mile Run
jurisdictions. One of the quarterly DMP reviews included an
assessment of the 5-acre Wilde Oaks townhouse project (see Figure 2)
which includes a detention pond designed to control post-development
peak runoff from the 100-year design storm in conformance with one of
the local stormwater management ordinances. The SITE model
investigation of this DMP revealed a peak flow increase of
approximately 25 cfs in the flood control channel, in spite of the
presence of the pond. The downstream increase can be attributed to
the interactions of higher flow rates on the receding limb of the
SITE model hydrograph with the main stem peak flows.
It was also noted that benefits of onsite control measures are
not constant throughout downstream areas. A 6.9 acre-ft detention
pond included in the original drainage design for the 1-66 highway
project, which is projected to reduce peak streamflow immediately
downstream from the highway by 118 cfs, appears to decrease peak flow
in the flood control channel by only about 70 cfs.
Thus it has been shown that the sensitivity of the watershed to
both impervious cover changes and typical runoff control measures
varies throughout the basin. The locational impacts of detention
storage have also been suggested in other modeling studies (1,4).
Since detention of stormwater at certain locations in the watershed
can adversely affect downstream peak flows, stormwater management
ordinances specifying uniform onsite detention requirements for an
entire political subdivision may eventually contribute to the
flooding problems which the local government desires to prevent. By
institutionalizing the use of the impact assessment tool WREM, the
Management Program has enabled local planners and public works
engineers to identify seldom analyzed hydraulic interactions and to
ensure optimum allocations of stormwater management resources.
Advantages of Joint Powers Programs for Stormwater Management
One of the major advantages of the joint exercise of powers
institution is its flexibility. Whereas other institutions such as
authorities and special districts may require the delegation of
specific powers to an independent governing board, the joint exercise
of powers institution allows the participating local governments to
tailor the powers of the new program and the composition of the
management board to suit their mutual needs. The ability to shape a
program which exercises limited powers and provides few serious
obstacles to local autonomy should give joint exercise of powers a
distinct advantage over the more traditional stormwater management
institutions in sections of the country where local governments are
apprehensive about the fiscal ramifications of regional environmental
management programs. In short, because it enables the multiple
jurisdictions in the watershed to effect a more gradual transition
from local to regional stormwater management approaches, joint
exercise of powers would appear to offer fewer risks than the more
Another advantage of the joint exercise of powers institution is
that participating jurisdictions can easily maintain control over the
manner in which the multijurisdictional stormwater management program
evolves. This is a particularly desirable characteristic in areas
where local governments are apprehensive about the potential for
regional programs to gradually acquire new powers, authority, or
duties that were not anticipated at the time the programs were
established. The powers that may be exercised by a joint powers
program are clearly stated in the written agreement that establishes
the program. The assumption of any additional powers requires the
approval of a new agreement by the governing boards of all
Likewise, joint exercise of powers affords the participating
local jurisdictions with an opportunity to gradually expand the
powers of the regional program after they have become acclimated to
the multijurisdictional approach to stormwater management. For
example, after a few more years of successful operations, the Four
Mile Run jurisdictions could conceivably be inclined to delegate the
following new DMP review powers to the Runoff Management Board: (a)
prior approval of all local DMP proposals following an assessment of
flooding impacts with the model WREM; (b) responsibility for the
formulation of locational criteria for runoff controls which must be
adopted by the participating jurisdiction; and (c) coordination of
interjurisdictional exchanges of flood control channel capacity.
Among the administrative powers that could conceivably be delegated
to the Four Mile Run Runoff Management Board at some future date is
the responsibility for the planning, construction, and operation of
multijurisdictional runoff control facilities. When the impacts of
urban runoff on the quality of downstream receiving waters is more
clearly understood, local governments in the Four Mile Run Watershed
may also be favorably inclined to delegate the following nonpoint
pollution management powers to the Runoff Management Board: (a)
responsibility for the development of guidelines for nonpoint
pollution management in the watershed; (b) responsibility for the
periodic review of basinwide nonpoint pollution impacts of DMP's with
an appropriate impact assessment tool; and (c) responsibility for the
issuance of corrective measure recommendations in the event that
adverse water quality impacts are projected.
A regional stormwater management program that relies upon the
joint exercise of powers institution has been described. The
program assures that analyses of stormwater impacts of future land
use changes in the Four Mile Run Watershed are not terminated at
jurisdictional boundaries. It also assures that cumulative effects
of land use changes in each jurisdiction are identified before the
downstream problem becomes economically irreversible. Facilities
constructed in accordance with the program may be characterized as
"preventive" measures, as opposed to the reparativee" measures that
are so typical of today's multijurisdictional watersheds. The
approach taken in the Four Mile Run Watershed should also be
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
appropriate for other watersheds with stormwater problems that do not
respect political boundaries.
The stormwater management studies described herein were
supported in part by NVPDC, by the four jurisdictions participating in
the Four Mile Run Watershed Management Program, and by the Virginia
Department of Highways and Transportation. The views presented in
this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent
the positions of the sponsoring jurisdictions and agencies.
1. Curtis, D.C. and McCuen, R.H., "Design Efficiency of Stormwater
Detention Basins," Journal of Water Resources Planning and
Management Division, ASCE, Vol. 103, No. WR1, May, 1977, pp.
2. Hartigan, J.P. and Bonuccelli, H.A., "Management of Urban Runoff
in a Multi-Jurisdictional Watershed," Proceedings of the 1977
International Symposium on Urban Hydrology, Hydraulics, and
Sediment Control, Report UKY BU14, College of Engineering,
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY., Dec., 1977, pp. 27-41.
3. Kiefer, C.J. and Chu, H.H., "Synthetic Storm Pattern for
Drainage Design," Journal of Hydraulics Division, ASCE, Vol. 83,
No. HY4, August, 1957, pp. 1-25.
4. Lumb, A.M., Wallace, J.R. and James, L.D., "Analysis of Urban
Land Treatment Measures for Flood Peak Reduction," Report No.
ERC-0574, Environmental Resources Center, Ga. Institute of
Technology, Atlanta, Ga., June 1974.
5. Randall, C.W., Grizzard, T.J. and Hoehn, R.C., "The Effect of
Upstream Control Measures on Restoration of a Water Supply
Reservoir," paper presented at the 50th Annual Conference of
Water Pollution Control Federation, held at Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, Oct. 2-7. 1977.
6. Shubinski, R.P. and Fitch, W.M., "Urbanization and Flooding--An
Example," Proceedings of EPA Conference on Environmental
Modeling and Simulation, EPA 600/9-76-016, U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., July, 1976, pp. 69-73.
7. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hydrologic Engineering Center,
"Urban Stormwater Runoff: STORM", Generalized Computer
Program 723-S8-L3520, Davis, California, August, 1975.
8. Water Resources Engineers, Inc., "San Francisco Stormwater
Model: User's Manual and Program Documentation," Dept. of Public
Works, City and County of San Francisco, California, 1972.
9. Water Resources Engineers, Inc., "Four Mile Run Watershed Runoff
Control Program," prepared for Northern Virginia Planning
District Commission, Falls Church, VA, Dec., 1976.
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF WATER MANAGEMENT POLICIES
John E. Reynolds
Since rainfall amounts vary significantly from one area to another
and from one season to another, man has often attempted to store water
for use during the dry seasons and to minimize flooding during the wet
seasons. The use of water has been important to the economic develop-
ment of many areas. Reservoirs were built on many rivers in the west
to store for hydroelectric power generation, irrigation and municipal
and industrial uses. In contrast, water management systems were built
in humid areas such as Florida primarily for flood control purposes.
In both types of development man is attempting to manipulate the supply
of water with respect to time, place and use.
The demand forwater has increased rapidly, and projections for the
future indicate the demand will continue to expand. In many areas of
the country, there will be strong competition among agricultural,
industrial, municipal, and other users of water. The process of match-
ing the quantity of water demanded with existing or potential supplies
of water may involve many important decisions affecting the use and
development of water resources. As water becomes scarce problems of
allocating a limited supply of water among uses and users arise.
Alternative operational policies for the water management system should
The study  upon which this paper is based was a cooperative
effort with the South Florida Water Management District (formerly the
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District). The district is
typical of many water management districts that must make decisions
regarding the allocation of a limited amount of water among uses and
users. When the district was formed, it was developed primarily to
provide flood protection. However, water management responsibilities
related to water supply, recreation, and the preservation and enhance-
ment of fish and wildlife have become important to the public and
consequently have also been recognized by the water management district.
To fulfill these responsibilities, the district operates a complex
system of canals, levees, pumping stations, spillways, navigation locks
and retention basins.
To improve the system of water management so that it could better
satisfy the various water users, the district undertook a research and
*Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations Journal Series No. 1352.
John E. Reynolds is Associate Professor of Food and Resource
Economics at the University of Florida.
458 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
development approach to adapt mathematical modeling techniques to the
system . Their goal has been to develop the following models: (1)
a physical systems model, (2) a rainfall prediction model, and (3) an
allocation model. The district's effort in physical system modeling
and rainfall prediction models have been reported elsewhere [11, 12,
13]. The study upon which this paper was based was directed toward the
development of allocation models.
The purpose of this paper is to present the application of a water
allocation model to a water management system and examine the economic
consequences of broad operational policy alternatives.
Water Management Decision Process
The process of making and/or implementing water allocation decisions
involves physical, biological, economic, and institutional consider-
ations. These considerations should be integrated into any water
allocation decision or policy .
The physical considerations are concerned with what is physically
possible. It involves specifying the physical and biological alterna-
tives and determining the limits of the water management system.
Alternative operational policies should also be evaluated in terms of
what is economically desirable. The economic considerations involve an
economic evaluation of the physical possibilities of the system. The
water management decisions are concerned with how to meet the objectives
in the most efficient manner. The economic evaluation should deal with
the benefit and costs of each of the management alternatives.
The physical, biological, and economic considerations are dependent
upon what is institutionally permissable. Water management alterna-
tives must be further evaluated to determine their legal permissability
and political acceptability. The physical, biological, economic, and
institutional considerations are all important components of any
operational water management model.
The major components in the development and selection of a long-
term operational water management policy are presented in Figure 1:
1) A proposed long-term surface water regulation policy is
specified. This may be in the form of a regulation schedule
(rule curve), water use regulation, land use change or some
2) This policy affects the form of the surface water management
model or the institutional constraint model.
3) Hydrologic data are the primary inputs to the surface water
management model, and the outputs are the system states, such
as a set of lake surface elevations.
4) The system states are inputs to the economic activities model,
which gives as its output the levels of the various water use
Activities and the net dollar benefits accruing to each of the
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
'FIGURE 1. DEVELOPMENT OF OPERATIONAL WATER MANAGEMENT POLICY
460 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
activities as a result of the proposed regulation policy and
subject to the institutional constraints specified.
5) The system states, benefit states, and institutional
constraints provide information upon which the proposed
regulation policy can be evaluated. If the proposed regula-
tion policy is determined to be unacceptable in the technical
evaluation, it is modified in accordance with the evaluation
results and another run is made.
6) If the policy is accepted in the technical evaluation, it is
evaluated by the governing board in light of considerations
that may not have been or cannot be quantified. If rejected,
modifications are made and new runs are made until the policy
is acceptable to the governing board.
When the long-term operational water management policy is satis-
factorily developed, a short-term execution policy can be formulated.
The execution of the short-term operational policy is illustrated in
Figure 2 and functions in the following manner:
1) Actual rainfall is continuously monitored and the data trans-
mitted to the operations center via the telemetry system.
2) The rainfall data provide input to the streamflow simulator,
which produces as output runoff into the lakes.
3) Based on the long-term operational policy, a set of gate
operations is specified by the gate operations model.
4) The gate operations and run off values from the streamflow
simulation model are the inputs to the water surface
elevations model, which gives as output a set of lake surface
elevations or the lake system states.
5) These states are evaluated in terms of the specifications for
the short-term operational policy. That is, has the short-
term operational schedule achieved the system states specified
by long-term operational policy? In addition, governing board
and staff judgement can be used to establish evaluation
criteria. If rejected, a new set of gate operations is
specified and new runs are made.
6) If accepted, the set of gate operations becomes the short-term
Within this operational water management framework, two analytical
techniques were used to assess the economic consequences of operational
policy alternatives. A linear programming model was developed to
assess the economic consequences of broad alternatives and the relative
trade-offs based on the economic returns from allocations of water
among different users, locations and time periods. A simulation model
of the hydrologic economic aspects of the system was developed to
assess the operational policies which are more specific, such as water
level regulation schedules [6, 10]. The linear programming model used
to assess the economic and/or institutional consequences of broad
policy alternatives is presented in this paper.
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
FIGURE 2. EXECUTION OF THE SHORT-TERM OPERATIONAL POLICY.
462 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Application of a Linear Programming Water Allocation Model
Several studies have used linear programming models in water
resources research [1, 2, 5, 7, 8]. Many of these studies have dealt
with analyses concerning the planning and design of water resource
systems (e.g. determining the optimum size and combination of
structures). In this study the system was already constructed and we
were concerned with determining the optimum allocation of water among
alternative operating policies within the given system. The linear
programming model had as its objective the maximization of net
economic benefits. The model can be represented algebraically by:
Total Net Returns (TNR) = a [ ajki Cjki + anki Snki] (1)
ik j n
Slki = MLki
Snki RMnki' n= 2, 3, ...
RELki < MXRki
MRL. < EREL k = 3, 4
S-- k ki
ki + bnk(i-) Snk(i-) + REL(k-l)i =
E jki Cjki + Snki + RELki
aki = per unit net returns from water consumptive activities
anki = per unit net returns from water used in non-consumptive
Cjki = level of activity (e.g., acres for citrus) of each of j
S water consumptive activities in each of k sub-basins, in
each of i time periods (each time period being 2 to 4
months in length)
Snki = amount of water stored, thus available for recreational and
future consumptive uses, for each of n levels of storage, in
each of k sub-basins, in each i time periods
Yki = water yield (net runoff water) available in each of k sub-
basins and each of i time periods
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
maximum allowable storage level (RIMk) for each sub-basin, the alter-
native minimum release requirements (MRLi) and the water yeild1 (Yki)
were estimated by the water management district staff. Consumptive
uses of water (Ci) in the basin were irrigated crops. Six different
crop-irrigation activities (Cjki) were specified and the net returns
per acre from each activity (ajki), the amount of water required
by each activity (bjki) and acreage of each crop (Ajk) were esti-
There were two non-consumptive uses of water or water related
activities (Snki) in the Kissimmee River Basin: recreational use of
water in storage and flood damages2 from excessive amounts of water in
storage. The net returns from recreation vary with the amount of water
in storage (Figure 3). Research in the basin indicated that the number
of recreational visits per time period declined as the amount of water
in storage fell below themean storage level . Based on this infor-
mation, recreational benefits were assumed to be at a maximum between
the mean storage level and maximum free storage;3 decrease by one-
third as the water level fell from the mean to the minimum level; and
decline when the storage level exceeded maximum free storage. Using
this concept of the relationship between storage levels and the value
of water to recreational visitors, the benefits in dollars per acre-
foot of storage were estimated .
The net costs of flood damages per acre-foot of water above the
regulated storage level for each basin were estimated by the Water
Management District staff. To these flood damages were added the
losses in recreational benefits that resulted from storage above
specified levels (maximum free storage in Figure 3). Thus, the net
cost of excessive quantities of water in storage was equal to flood
damages plus the losses in net returns to recreation.
Optimal allocations were obtained for the Kissimmee River Basin
using three alternative minimum release requirements (MRLi) and three
levels of irrigated crop acreages (Ajk). Alternative levels of water
released were considered since the Kissimmee River has historically
furnished a large amount of surface water for Lake Okeechobee and
Southeast Florida. The three alternative release requirements chosen
were: (1) the average of the lowest monthly discharges for each month
in a 10-year period; (2) the average of the lowest discharges for time
1Water yield is determined by the distribution of rainfall and the
resulting run-off or streamflow generated in the water management
system in each time period.
2Flood damages to crops and real property in close proximity to the
lakes and streams in the Kissimmee River Basin occur when water levels
exceed the elevations at which the control structures were designed to
effectively control water.
3Maximum free storage represents that level of water in storage
beyond which flood damages begin to occur and recreational benefits
start to decline.
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
per time period
(percent of total)
Level of water
FIGURE 3. ACCUMULATION OF RECREATIONAL BENEFITS IN RELATION TO STORAGE
LEVELS, KISSIMMEE RIVER BASIN, FLORIDA.
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
periods 1 and 2 and five times the average of the lowest discharges for
time periods 3 and 4 (this proposed release requirement was to insure
an ample supply of water to the Southeast Florida area during the drier
months of winter and spring); and (3) the sum of the monthly mean dis-
charges for each time period. Alternative levels of irrigated acreages
were considered to evaluate the effects on allocation from 1) the acre-
ages irrigated from surface water, 2) total irrigated acreage (to
determine the effect if this all came from surface water), and 3) pro-
jections of irrigated acreage for 1980.
Optimal allocation solutions were obtained using the 10-year
average water yields (Yki) for each time period and sub-basin. The
following information, which is useful in evaluating proposed changes
in water regulation policy, was obtained for each sub-basin: 1)
benefits from each type of irrigated activity; 2) benefits from
recreation; 3) costs from flooding;4 4) total net benefits; 5) the
amount of water in storage at the end of each period; and 6) the amount
of water released. Except in the cases of the benefits from irrigation
and total net benefits, this information Was also generated for each
time period. Since irrigation activities were structured for the
entire year, benefits to irrigation were only calculated on an annual
Empirical Results and Economic Implications
By analyzing the optimal solutions with alternative release
requirements and levels of irrigated acreage, an evaluation of the
trade-off possibilities was.made. It is instructive to examine the
distribution of the benefits as well as the change in total benefits
when evaluating alternative policies. That is, it is important to look
at such trade-offs as 1) irrigation versus recreation benefits, 2) up-
stream versus downstream benefits, and 3) total net benefits versus
benefits to particular sub-basins.
The total net benefits from optimal water allocation using
alternative levels of release requirements and irrigated acreage are
presented in Table 1 for each sub-basin. By changing the policy from a
"low" to a "high" release requirement the benefits to the users in the
basin are reduced from $2.4 to $3.1 million depending on the level of
irrigated acreage. Sub-basin II users must bear most of the reduction
in benefits from such a policy change. In all but one case (low level
of irrigation in sub-basin IV), this type of policy change reduces the
benefits in each of the sub-basins.
The effect of institutionally changing the release requirement in
conjunction with an increase in irrigated acreage can also be evaluated
by examining Table 1. A change from a policy of "high irrigation-low
release" to a policy of "low irrigation-high release" would cause
benefits for the total Kissimmee River Basin to decline by 15 percent.
None of the optimal solutions obtained included storage levels
sufficiently high to induce flood damages. Therefore, the costs from
flooding were zero.
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
TABLE 1. TOTAL BENEFITS FROM THE OPTIMAL ALLOCATION OF WATER IN THE
KISSIMMEE RIVER BASIN FOR THREE ALTERNATIVE RELEASE REQUIRE-
MENTS AND LEVELS OF IRRIGATED ACREAGE BY SUB-BASIN.
Irrigated Release Requirementb
Acreagea Low Medium High
aLevels of irrigation for the total basin were: Low = 1968 acreage
irrigated from surface water (24,760); Medium = 1968 total irrigated
acreage (55,816); and High = SCS projections of total irrigated acreage
in 1980 (89,200).
Alternative release for the total basin requirements were: Low =
average of the minimum release over the last 10 years (231,000 acre
feet); Medium = proposed regulation schedule (599,000 acre feet); and
High = average discharges over the last 10 years (1,006,000 acre feet).
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
On the other hand, a change from a policy of "low irrigation-low re-
lease" to one of"high irrigation-high release," would cause a difference
in total benefits of only 0.1 percent. This comparison suggests that
for the total basin, possibilities exist for trade-offs between release
requirements and acres of crops to be irrigated while maintaining total
benefits at a relatively constant rate. However, it is important to
examine the distribution of benefits among sub-basins to evaluate which
areas would gain or suffer from the proposed changes. Sub-basins I and
II (the upstream sub-basins) would suffer a decrease in benefits of 3.2
percent and 6.3 percent respectively with a change from a policy of
"low irrigation-low release" to a policy of "high irrigation-high
release" while sub-basins III and IV would experience a gain in benefits
of 9.3 percent and 33.6 percent respectively.
It may also be important to examine the distribution of benefits by
type of activity to determine what type of water users would gain or
lose from the proposed policy changes. For example, in the comparison
of the "low irrigation-low release" to the "high irrigation-high re-
lease" alternatives, the total benefits to the basin changed very little
($39,700) but the irrigation benefits increased from $1.37 million to
$4.05 million (Table 2). In this type of policy change, downstream
users of water (users outside the basin) would also benefit due to
increased water releases (about 250,000 acre-feet of water). We did not
estimate the benefits of additional water to downstream users in this 4
study. Benefits to recreational users in the basin on the other hand,
would decrease by $2.7 million.
Net benefits to water users in the basin were reduced when policies
to require increased releases of water were evaluated. By dividing the
reduction in total net benefits by the additional acre-feet of water
released, an indication of the cost (in terms of benefits foregone) per
acre-foot of the water released can be obtained. The results of these
calculations, presented in Table 3, indicate that the average benefits
foregone due to increasing the release requirement from "low" to
"medium" range from $3.99 to $7.80 per acre-foot. The average benefits
foregone from increasing the release requirement from "medium" to "high"
(when water became scarce) range from $10.36 to $12.14 per acre-foot.
For a net social gain to occur the benefits from the downstream use of
these additional releases must be greater than the benefits foregone
within the basin.
These estimates indicate that the benefits foregone from increasing
the water release requirements are sensitive to changes in the amount
released. This relationship existed for both the annual total releases
and the releases for each time period. The cost of water releases was
also sensitive to the amount of water used for irrigation in the basin.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The interaction of physical, biological, economic and institutional
considerations are included in a framework for developing long-term
operational water management policies. A linear programming model of
the hydrologic-economic system was used to determine the economic
consequences of broad operational water management policy alternatives
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
r. 0 0
0 0 0
o o o
en 4, 4-'
a (a~ (a
a) a ( a). ( a
0 U 0 u 0 u
a4() "4 ~ a
470 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
TABLE 3. BENEFITS FOREGONE DUE TO ADDITIONAL WATER RELEASES.
Irrigated Release requirement change
acreage Low to Medium Medium to High
Low 5.63 10.36
Medium 7.80 10.78
High 3.99a 12.14
aThis estimate of the benefits foregone is much lower than expected
and results from a substantially larger change in the amount of water
released (denominator of ratio) than occurred at the lower and medium
levels of irrigated acreage. As water becomes more scarce'at the
medium and high release requirements there is less variation in the
amount of water released.
and the relative trade-offs based on economic returns from water
allocations among different users, locations, and time periods. Total
net returns were maximized subject to constraints on the water manage-
ment system such as the storage capacities of each sub-basin, the
minimum quantity of water required to be released each time period and
the minimum quantity of water required in storage in each sub-basin.
The results obtained from the application of the model to the
Kissimmee River Basin provide the following conclusions concerning
possible operating policy alternatives: 1) if mandatory release
requirements are maintained at their minimum (low) levels, irrigated
acreage could be expanded considerably for most years without decreas-
ing recreational benefits; 2) the benefits from the use of water in the
basin accrue mainly from its use as a recreational resource; and 3) the
cost (in terms of benefits foregone) for additional water released
above the minimum required level is quite sensititive to the quantities
of additional releases, the time periods in which water is released,
and the acres of each type of irrigated crops in the sub-basin.
This type of allocation model determines the optimum allocation (in
terms of economic benefits) with respect to uses, time and location
subject to hydrologic and institutional constraints. The input data
requirements for this model were relatively simple. This model also
provides a relatively easy comparison of changes in economic benefits
due to changes in physical or institutional constraints or changes in
the level of water using activities. If the objective function is one
of maximizing economic benefits, the cost of trade-offs between water
uses in time and space can be easily obtained.
ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF POLICIES
One of the limitations of this type of model is the inability to
relate economic costs and returns of water-using activities to periods
of time sufficiently small to reflect fluctuations in water yield and
runoff. The length of time used in our model varied from two to four
months. Shorter time periods can be used in this type of model (e.g.,
one month or two weeks, but the model is still unable to reflect the
immediate fluctuation in water yield and runoff from a storm and any
resulting flood damages. Another limitation is the inability of the
model to capture the incremental aspects of the decision making process
with respect to time. For example, the hydrologic yields for each time
period are required as input data and these data are not available
ahead of time.
This type of model can, however, provide useful guidelines and
initial indications as to efficient spatial and temporal allocations of
water managed by the system. More importantly, it can provide very
useful indications of the relative sensitivities of the various
hydrologic and economic aspects of the system to proposed policy
changes. These evaluations can be used in developing long-term
operational water management policies and guide the development of more
detailed and specific information generating techniques (e.g., simula-
tion) for evaluating and executing short-term operational policies.
 Andrews, Richard A. and Richard R. Weyrick. "Linear Programming
Use for Evaluating Water Resources and Cost and Benefit
Allocation." Water Resources Bulletin, Volume 9, pp. 258-
 Dorfman, Robert. "Mathematical Models: The Multistructure
Approach," in Design of Water-Resource Systems, edited by
Maass, et al, Cambridge: Harvard Uiversity Press, 1962.
, Gibbs, Kenneth C. A Measure of Outdoor Recreational Usage, Food
and Resource Economics Department Economics Report 52.
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Univeristy of
 Gibbs, K.C. and J.R. Conner. "Compenents of Outdoor Recreational
Values: Kissimmee River Basin, Florida," Southern Journal of
Agricultural Economics, Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 239-244, 1973.
 Heady, Earl 0. "Mathematical Analysis: Models for Quantitative
Application in Watershed Planning," in Economics of Watershed
Planning, edited by G.D, Tolley and F.E. Riggs, Ames: Iowa
State University Press, 1961.
472 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
 Kiker, Clyde F. "River Basin Simulation: An Interactive
Engineering-Economic Approach to Operational Policy Evalua-
tion," Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, Volume 9,
No. 2, pp. 57-66, 1977.
 Liu, Chin-shu. "Flood Control Storage Allocation by Linear
Programming," Water Resources Bulletin, Volume 8, pp. 976-
 Pavelis, G.A. and John F. Timmons. "Linear Programming--A Tool
for Watershed Planning," Journal of Soil and Water Conserva-
tion, Volume 15, pp. 5-10, 1960.
 Reynolds, John E. "Allocating Water Among Alternative Uses,"
Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, ASCE, Volume
97, No. IR1, Proc. Paper 7978, March 1971, pp. 85-92.
 Reynolds, John E., J. Richard Conner, Kenneth C. Gibbs and Clyde
F. Kiker. Water Allocation Models Based on an Analysis for
the Kissimmee River Basin, Florida Water Resources Research
Center Publication No. 26, Gainesville, Florida, 1974.
 Sinha, L.K. "An Operational Watershed Model: Step 1-B: Regula-
tion of Water Levels in the Kissimmee River Basin," Water
Resources Bulletin, Volume 6, pp. 209-221, 1970.
 Sinha, L.K. and L.E. Lindahl. "An Operational Water Management
Model: General Considerations, Purposes and Progress,"
Paper No. 70-236, Presented at the 1970 Annual Meeting,
American Society of Agricultural Engineers, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, July 1970.
 Sinha, L.K. and N.N. Khanal. "Estimation of Rainfall for the
Kissimmee River Basin," Paper No. 71-728, Presented at the
1971 Winter Meeting, American Society of Agricultural
Engineers, Chicago, Illinois, December 1971.
 Storch, William V. and Robert L. Hamrick. "An Approach to
Operation of a Regional Primary Water Control System,"
Social and Ecological Aspects of Irrigation and Drainage,
American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, N.Y. 1970,
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT:
LAWS AND INSTITUTIONS
W. Martin Roche1 M. ASCE
The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation is
completing the Ventura County Water Management Project Feasibility
Investigation. The plan to be recommended for implementation includes
the integration of surface water, ground water, reclaimed water, and
imported water. The investigation has involved many complex legal and
institutional aspects, and has required close coordination with many
Federal, State, and local agencies; special interest groups; and the
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the legal and institutional
aspects that have influenced the planning process for the project and to
discuss how these aspects will affect project implementation.
Ventura County is located along the Southern California coast,
approximately 100 miles (161 km) northwest of Los Angeles, California,
as shown on figure 1.
The study area includes over 100,000 acres of intensively developed
irrigated agricultural land which is generally devoted to high income
crops. Urban and industrial land uses are expanding and, particularly
in the Oxnard Plain area, are encroaching upon agricultural lands.
The population of Ventura County is presently over 470,000 and is
expected to approach 800,000 by the year 2000. Irrigated acreage is
expected to drop slightly to about 100,000 acres by the year 2000.
Total water demands will increase from about 330,000 acre-feet per year
in 1975 to about 430,000 acre-feet per year in 2000.
Ventura County has several water supply problems. Ground water is
presently being overdrafted (pumpage of ground water in excess of
replenishment) at the estimated rate of 45,000 to 60,000 acre-feet per
year. Countywide, the gap between supply and demand is expected to
approach 80,000 acre-feet per year by the year 2000. Present municipal,
industrial, and agricultural requirements are met by development of
surface supplies, ground-water pumping, and importation. Additional
Supervisory Civil Engineer, Bureau of Reclamation, Sacramento,
474 IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Fig. 1.--Location Map
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT
supplies are needed to reduce or eliminate the overdraft and to provide
for future growth in requirements. Additional water supplies are
presently needed for fish and wildlife and recreational requirements,
and this need is expected to increase with increased population and
leisure time. Surface and ground water in many areas of the county
contain high salt levels--making the water quality unsuitable for many
In addition to water supply problems, treated waste water which is
presently discharged to river channels promotes the growth of aquatic
weeds which reduce the flood carrying capacity of the channels. Waste-
water discharges are also causing seepage problems on the Oxnard Plain
where previously dry flood control channels are at higher elevations
than adjacent agricultural lands. In Simi Valley, almost total use of
imported water for municipal and industrial supply has resulted in a
rising ground-water table which causes severe urban waterlogging and
drainage problems in the west end of the valley.
As the urbanization and population growth continues, the volume
of municipal and industrial waste water will become proportionately
greater. An estimated 65,000 acre-feet of waste water could be
reclaimed annually by the year 2000 which could provide up to 15
percent of the annual net water requirements for Ventura County.
While this 15 percent may seem small, it would be about 80 percent of
the gap between supply and demand we are projecting for the year 2000.
Much of this waste water is of a lower salinity than local surface and
ground water. Thus, while waste water presents potential pollution
problems which must be corrected, it is also a valuable resource which
can play an important role in meeting the future water needs in
VENTURA COUNTY WATER MANAGEMENT PROJECT
The Bureau of Reclamation is currently conducting the Ventura
County Water Management Project--a feasibility investigation of water
management for Ventura County with an emphasis on the reclamation and
reuse of municipal waste water. The study's objective is to match
present and future water needs with a plan for development for use of
municipal waste water, surface and ground water, and water imported from
northern California. The study began in October 1973 and is scheduled
for completion in late 1978. Plan formulation for the investigation has
been conducted using the multiobjective planning (MOP) process.
In the MOP process, at least two plans are formulated. One plan is
developed which emphasizes the National Economic Development (NED)
objective, and one plan is developed which emphasizes the Environmental
Quality (EQ) objective. Other planss, which include components of the
NED and EQ emphasis plans, may also be formulated.
NED objective components include the following:
1. Municipal and industrial water supply
2. Irrigation water supply
3. Flood control
4. Hydroelectric power
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
5. Fish and wildlife
EQ objective components include the following:
1. Greenbelts, stream systems, lakes, wilderness, and estuaries
2. Archeological, historical, and cultural resources
3. Biological, geological, and ecological resources
4. Water, air, land, visual, and sound quality
Each plan is analyzed using a four-account evaluation system:
Social Well Being
The NED Account is developed in monetary terms and includes the
same components as the NED Objective. The EQ Account is developed in
nonmonetary terms and includes the same components as the EQ Objective.
The Regional Development Account is developed in both monetary and
nonmonetary terms and includes the following components:
1. Regional income and employment effects
2. Regional population effects
3. Regional economic base and stability
4. Educational, cultural, and recreational opportunities.
The Social Well Being Account is developed predominantly in non-
monetary terms and includes the following components:
1. Individual and community effects
2. Areawide effects
3. National emergency preparedness effects
4. Aggregate social effects
Evaluation of the NED and EQ Objective Emphasis Plans may lead to
the formulation of a third or "other" plan which would incorporate
elements of the NED and EQ Objective Emphasis Plans. Selection of a
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT
plan for recommendation to the Congress for implementation is based on
the above four-account evaluation system.
Applying the concept of MOP has resulted in the formulation of
three countywide plans of water development and management for Ventura
County. A NED Objective Emphasis Plan and a EQ Objective Emphasis Plan
were formulated in the spring of 1976. While both plans are designed to
meet county water needs, the NED plan has more emphasis on municipal,
industrial, and agricultural water supplies, recreational reservoirs,
and economic efficiency. The EQ plan has more emphasis on wetland
areas, fish and wildlife habitat, and on conservation of water (more
efficient use). Analysis of these two plans has lead to the formulation
of a combination plan which incorporates some of the elements of both
the NED and the EQ plans. Table 1 compares the accomplishments of the
Several legal issues at both the Federal and State level are
currently in a state of limbo. The outcome of these issues has the
potential for greatly impacting the final recommended plan for the
Ventura County Water Management Project and its ultimate implementation.
Table 1. Comparison of alternative plans
Development Quality Combination
Plan Plan Plan
Total project cost $173,897,000 $109,868,000 $154,031,000
Total project benefits $260,874,000 $175,802,000 $250,358,000
Municipal and industrial 2,480 3,159 3,110
supply, year 2000 supply, 6
acre-feet (cubic meters) (3.06x106) (3.90x106) (3.83x106
Irrigation water supply, 76,158 78,598 80,666
year 2000 supply,
acre-feet (cubic meters) (93.9x106) (96.9x106) (99.5x106
Recreation (year 2020 7,675,000 520,000 3,500,000
Fish and wildlife 48,825 28,645 49,615
(average annual user
Urban drainage (present $ 451,000 $ 451,000 $ 451,000
Anadromous fishery (average 0 3,000 3,000
annual user days)
Flood control (present $ 301,000 $ 0 $ 301,000
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Acreage Limitation The traditional "160-acre limitation" of
reclamation law and its enforcement have been a subject of much contro-
versy in recent years. The Department of the Interior has recently
proposed new regulations on acreage limitation which impose more strict
rules on the nonexcess ownership of land, improve enforcement of excess
land sale price restrictions, more specifically define the procedures by
which excess lands are to be sold and who can qualify as purchasers, and
insure low-priced Federal water is used to encourage the establishment
of genuine small family farms. An environmental impact statement on the
proposed regulations is currently being written, and implementation is
not expected prior to December 1979.
Agricultural interests in Ventura County have expressed concern
over strict enforcement of acreage limitation laws. These concerns are
valid as we estimate as much as 30 percent of the lands in the potential
service areas may be excess under the current 160-acre limitation.
Under the proposed regulations, the excess lands percentage may be
greater. However, since the project is to provide a supplemental (and
not a full) water supply, enough water from the ground-water basins and
local developments will be available to meet the needs of the excess
lands. The proposed regulations provide for the commingling of project
and nonproject waters in non-Federally constructed facilities. There-
fore, project water can be distributed through nonproject distribution
systems which serve both excess and nonexcess lands--provided the
quantity of project water introduced does not exceed the diversions to
the nonexcess lands.
The President's Water Policy On June 6, 1978, President Carter
sent to Congress his water policy initiatives which are designed to:
1. Improve planning and efficient management of Federal water
2. Provide a new, national emphasis on water conservation.
3. Enhance Federal-State cooperation and improve State water
4. Increase attention to water quality.
Of the many points in the proposed policy, the following appear to
have the most impact on the Ventura County Water Management Project.
1. Projects will be given expedited consideration where State
governments assume a share of costs over and above existing
2. Where vendible outputs are involved, preference should be given
to projects which provide for greater recovery of Federal and
State costs consistent with project purposes.
3. For project purposes with vendible outputs, states would
contribute 10 percent of the costs--proportionate to and phased
with Federal appropriations.
4. Equalizing cost-sharing for structural and nonstructural
flood control alternatives.
5. Require development of water conservation programs as a condi-
tion of contracts for storage or delivery of municipal and
industrial water supplies from Federal projects.
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT
6. More precisely calculate and implement the "ability to pay"
provision in existing law which governs recovery of a portion
of project capital cost.
If implemented, the net effect of these policies will be closer
scrutiny of the proposed plans by State and local agencies with the
possible reduction in the recreation and user-oriented fish and wild-
life functions of the project. Water conservation, which has already
received State and local attention, will be given increased emphasis.
Waste-Water Reuse Criteria Criteria for the reuse of waste water
for irrigation and recreation is specified by the California Department
of Health. The regulations are redundant in that they specify both a
treatment process and a numerical criteria for the effluent. The most
stringent regulations are for the spray irrigation of food crops and for
nonrestricted (body-contact) recreation, and specify the median coliform
organism count does not exceed 2.2 per 100 milliliters and the number
of coliform organisms does not exceed 23 per 100 milliliters in more
than one sample within any 30-day period. The required treatment
includes secondary treatment, disinfection, oxidation, coagulation,
clarification, and filtration. This is a very expensive process which
none of the waste-water treatment facilities in Ventura County are
designed to accomplish. However, several of the treatment plants will
use a "direct filtration" process to meet stream discharge requirements.
In this process, a floc-forming coagulant is injected into the waste
water just ahead of the media filters--eliminating the need for expen-
sive coagulation and sedimentation basins and eliminating the large
amounts of sludge that must be removed and disposed. Research conducted
recently in nearby Los Angeles County has shown the "direct filtration"
process can meet the same effluent criteria as the more expensive
process required by the State Health Department.
To achieve full project benefits, we are counting on the "direct
filtration" process being approved soon for spray irrigation and non-
restricted recreation. The Governor of California has recently set a
goal of reclaiming 600,000 acre-feet of waste water annually by 1982,
and to achieve this goal, the "direct filtration" or a similar process
must be approved.
Review of California Water Rights Law The Governor has appointed
a Commission to Review California Water Rights Law and develop a final
report by the end of 1978. Existing laws covering ground water use are
believed by some to be inadequate. Overlying owners now have a right to
pump ground water which is not absolute but is relative to the rights of
all other overlying owners and is senior to the right of one who intends
to appropriate ground water--that is to take it and make a use other
than as an overlying owner. Adjudication of these conflicting claims is
difficult. There is no permit system governing ground water as there is
in appropriation of surface water. In Ventura County this has resulted
in no restrictions on pumping, little recordkeeping, and in serious
overdraft of many ground-water basins.
The Review Commission is also considering water rights laws as they
apply to waste water reclamation. Two questions which have come up are:
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
i. Must water users consider a waste-water alternative to meet the
State constitution mandate to avoid waste?
2. Does existing law give proper incentive to waste-water recla-
mation? If transferring to reclaimed means forfeiture of
rights to the present supply, then a serious disincentive
Recommendations of the commission will require action by the State
Legislature to be implemented. Greater control over ground-water use
and more encouragement for reusing waste water could both favor imple-
mentation of the Ventura County Water Management Project.
Adjudication to Protect Water Quality Section 2100 of the Cali-
fornia Water Code provides for the adjudication of ground-water basins
by the State Water Resources Control Board to protect water quality.
The State Board staff is conducting a study of the Oxnard Plain Basin
in Ventura County. There appears to be a strong case for adjudicating
the Oxnard Plain Basin: Ground-water overdraft in the basin is
causing seawater intrusion which is seriously degrading water quality.
Adjudication of the basin would end the overdraft and halt the seawater
intrusion but would also remove several thousand acres from irrigation
with serious economic and social consequences.
While some local agencies are opposed to the adjudication study,
other agencies see the threat of an adjudication as assisting them in
developing needed supplemental water supplies. One water district has
pledged their full cooperation and support of the proposed adjudication
study--provided the study be directed towards finding physical solutions
to the water supply and water quality problems rather than directed
towards limiting water use. An adjudication has been described by local
water experts as "unbelievably complex" and as "an awful lot of money
for lawyers and engineers."
We anticipate the State Water Resources Control Board's findings
will point to either reduced water use or supplemental supplies as being
needed to protect water quality in the Oxnard Plain Basin. This will
favor implementation of the Ventura County Water Management Project.
Proposition 13 On June 6, 1978, California voters overwhelmingly
passed Proposition 13, the Jarvis-Gann property tax initiative, which
calls for a constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes an esti-
mated 57 percent and tax revenues by $7 billion. It is ironic that this
measure passed on the same day the President announced his water policy
since California, with probably the most ability to participate finan-
cially in Federal water projects, is now being told by the voters,
"Don't use our property tax dollars to do it."
The potential impact of Proposition 13 on the Ventura County Water
Management Project is to favor repayment plans based on user fees rather
than on taxation. Some of the user-oriented recreation and fish and
wildlife functions of the project may be reduced or eliminated.
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT
Jurisdictional Problems There is no one countywide agency in
Ventura County that oversees water resource planning, development, and
management. In the 1940's, efforts to develop a countywide approach to
water management failed, and since then water interests have become more
and more fragmented. In 1950, the United Water Conservation District
was formed in the Santa Clara River Valley and the Oxnard Plain. Later,
the Casitas and Calleguas Municipal Water Districts were formed in the
Ventura River and Calleguas Creek drainage areas, respectively. Thus,
today there are three major water districts in the county-each with
water powers and interests limited to its individual (but sometimes
overlapping) boundaries and with responsibility for providing water
supplies separately and independently of the other districts and of
county government. The situation is further compounded by the presence
of approximately 150 water purveyors and an estimated 1,500 to 1,800
private wells. The.complexities are magnified by the many types of
organization involved in the delivery of water--including cities,
dependent special districts, independent special districts, county
departments, and private companies. A Water Resources Issue Paper
recently prepared by the County Planning Department summarizes the major
jurisdictional problems as follows:
1. The division of county water interests as the result of the
formation of three major water districts.
2. Annexation of Calleguas Municipal Water District to the Metro-
politan Water District of Southern California for a supply of
imported water from that source.
3. Annexation of the city of Oxnard, which is a member of United
Water Conservation District (and is physically located within
United's boundaries), to Calleguas MWD for imported water
4. The geographical division of the city of Ventura between the
Casitas MWD and United WCD. Neither district can serve the
areas outside its boundaries except on a surplus water basis.
5. Divided State water project importation interests among three
agencies: The city of Ventura, Casitas MWD, and United WCD.
Water Supply and Water Quality Studies Many recent water supply
and water quality related studies have both increased the information on
water problems and have led to confusion as to who, if anyone, should
logically take the lead in implementing solutions. During the early
phase of our investigation, we conducted an extensive public partici-
pation program to obtain citizen input. One comment we received was to
build a "xerox dam" from all the duplicate copies of all the completed
(but never implemented) studies on county water problems.
Major studies being conducted concurrently with our feasibility
investigation include studies mandated by Sections 201 and 208 of Public
Law 92-500 (the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of
1972), a Regional Land Use Program, and several studies in support of
applications for Public Law 984 Small Projects Loans.
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 provide
for the control and management of all point and nonpoint sources of
water pollution and related problems. Section 201 of the Act provides
for grant funding for the study, design, and construction of municipal
waste-water treatment and disposal facilities. Step I grants are for
the study of all alternatives to find the most "cost effective" means
for acceptable treatment and disposal. SeVeral recently completed and
ongoing Step I studies have considered waste-water reuse as a disposal
alternative. Unfortunately, the market value or "willingness to pay"
for waste water is considered in the "cost effectiveness" analysis
rather than the total economic benefits to the nation and the local area
of providing irrigation water. Analyses for the Ventura County Water
Management Project have shown these economic benefits to be several
times the market value. In most cases, therefore, the 201 studies have
not found waste-water reuse to be the most "cost effective' alternative
for treatment and disposal.
Section 208 of the Act provides for the funding for areawide plans
for the control and management of all sources of water pollution and
related problems as they affect water quality and beneficial uses. The
Ventura Regional County Sanitation District has been designated as the
lead agency for 208 planning in Ventura County to develop plans for the
control and management of such activities as municipal and industrial
waste water, storm and combined sewer runoff, nonpoint source pollu-
tants, and land use as it relates to water quality. The final plan will
be completed in late 1978 and will contain many of the same elements to
be recommended by the Bureau of Reclamation for eliminating ground-water
overdraft, conserving local water supplies, and reclaiming municipal
waste water. In many cases, 201 planning has preceded and preempted 208
planning. In comparing 201 projections during the review of some 201
project reports, in no case has a 201 facility plan been rejected or
modified to conform with the 208 population/land use configurations.
When the 208 plan is completed, it is expected its population/land use
projections will set the standard for future 201 facilities planning.
The County Regional Land Use Planning (RLUP) program seeks to
integrate the efforts of four major regional planning programs underway
in Ventura County: The "208" Plan, the County Complex Sources Program
for Attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the Ventura
County Subregional Transportation Plan, and the Local Agency Formation
Commission (LAFCO) Spheres of Influence Study. The Planning Division of
the Environmental Resources Agency, in cooperation with all nine cities,
county agencies, special districts, and other regional State and Federal
agencies, is conducting the program to develop a regional land use plan
by late 1978.
Alternative population projections and land use plans considered in
the program have varying demands for municipal, industrial, and agri-
cultural water supply. To accommodate the several alternatives, the
plans for the Ventura County Water Management Project have had to remain j
Applications for three Public Law 984 Small Project Loans for water
districts in Ventura County are currently in various states of review.
VENTURA COUNTY PROJECT 483
A study is underway in support of a fourth potential loan application.
Close coordination with the loan applicants has insured our feasibility
investigation has served to complement rather than compete with our loan
Coordinating with the many studies and water-related agencies in
Ventura County has taken a major effort. Our early public participation
program and numerous interagency meetings as well as one-on-one meetings
have insured our investigation has kept abreast of changing needs,
conditions, and ideas.
The legal and institutional aspects of the Ventura County Water
Management Project Feasibility Investigation have presented many
challenges during the planning process. Recent developments will
continue to shape and modify the Combination Plan prior to its reaching
final form as a plan recommended for implementation. It appears now
this final plan will more closely resemble the Environmental Quality
Emphasis Plan which emphasizes irrigation water supply, fish and wild-
life habitat, and environmental quality enhancement, while having a
minimum of user-oriented recreation.
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT IN NEBRASKA
J. David Aiken and Raymond J. Supalla
The regulation of ground water withdrawals is a difficult
political and technical problem, especially in states where irrigation
is a major use. In most western states ground water use is subject
to some degree of state regulation. Ironically, however, the major
ground water using states of California, Texas, and Nebraska all lack
significant state or local controls on ground water use. Nebraska
has historically permitted unlimited ground water development, subject
only to ineffectual local ground water control. However, since 1975
when the Ground Water Management Act (GWMA) was passed, Nebraska has
been the most active of the major ground water using states in pursuing
a policy permitting effective local control of ground water.
This paper analyzes the GWMA and evaluates its potential
effectiveness as a ground water control mechanism. Particular emphasis
is placed on assessing the various ground water control authorities
granted by the GWMA and how they have been combined in managing
ground water declines associated with irrigation.
II. HISTORY OF GROUND WATER DEVELOPMENT AND REGULATION
Early irrigation in Nebraska was associated with surface water
development. Significant ground water irrigation development did
not occur until the drought of the 1950s. Moreover, the major growth
in ground water irrigation has occurred since 1960, largely in
response to the development of center-pivot water distribution systems.
From 1960 to the present ground water irrigation increased from less
than three million to more than six million acres, with the major
irrigated crop being field corn.
The history of ground water regulation in Nebraska reflects the
rate and timing of irrigation development. Before passage of the
GWMA in 1975, Nebraska had followed a laissez-faire ground water
control policy, in part because the relative abundance of ground
water fostered the belief that supplies would always be plentiful.
State restrictions related to ground water management were limited
Assistant Professor (Water Law Specialist) and Associate
Professor, respectively, Department of Agricultural Economics,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583.
Sections 46-656 to 46-674, Nebraska Revised Statutes (1976
Cumulative Supplement), reprinted in G.R. Svoboda (ed.), Laws, Rules,
and Regulations Pertaining to Groundwater in Nebraska, Conservation
and Survey Division, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68588 (1978).
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
to well spacing requirements to prevent direct interference among wells,
and well registration. Prior to 1969 ground water conservation
districts could be formed upon petition of local landowners. The
districts developed educational and data collection programs and
enforced ground water runoff regulations, but did not directly
regulate ground water withdrawals. Judicial decisions related to
ground water have dealt with conflicts among individual ground water
users, and have not addressed the conflicts associated with regional
ground water declines.
A common problem with single-purpose local districts is that they
often cannot afford a full-time specialized staff. In recognition of
this problem as well as others, the Nebraska Legislature provided for
the reorganization of soil and water conservation districts, and a
variety of watershed districts into larger, more comprehensive Natural
Resource Districts (NRDs) in 1969. It was not until 1972, however,
that the reorganization was implemented by combining the approximately
150 single-purpose districts mentioned above into 24 NRDs, which
blanket the state. The NRDs are generally organized along surface
watershed lines, are governed by a locally elected board of directors
who hire a full-time manager, and are funded by a property tax.
The NRDs have broad natural resources responsibilities, including:
erosion and flood control, soil conservation, water supply, ground and
surface water conservation, drainage, wildlife habitat management,
recreation, and forestry and range management. In addition, the NRDs
have the sole authority to initiate ground water control processes
under the GWMA.
The principle advantage of the multi-purpose NRDs which replaced
the single-purpose districts is that they have more resources and can
concentrate their efforts and funds on the most pressing local
problems. A further advantage is that their larger size facilitates
the employment of needed specialized manpower.
III. NEBRASKA'S GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT ACT
The establishment of NRDs and growing concern about declining
ground water levels set the stage for enactment of the GWMA in 1975.
The GWMA gives NRDs the option of regulating ground water through the
establishment of ground water control areas. Since the estimated
six million acres irrigated with ground water were developed free of
state or local ground water control, the fear of the consequences of
ground water regulation was considerable. Fear of state regulation
was so strong that a provision giving the Nebraska Department of
Water Resources (DWR) authority to unilaterally establish ground
water control areas was removed from the GWMA on the floor by the
Legislature, leaving the initiation of ground water control procedures
to the sole discretion of the NRD board. Without the presence of
NRDs to assume a regulatory function at the local level, a ground
water control act probably could not have been enacted.
The GWMA has a local control philosophy, as both what controls
are sought at all and what controls are imposed are an NRD decision.
The state has substantial review and oversight responsibilities,
however, making the GWMA an innovative blending of local and state
ground water control authorities.
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Authorities and Procedures for Establishing Ground Water Controls
Three basic sets of activities are involved in establishing
ground water controls under the GWMA: (1) designation of a control
area, (2) establishment of regulations applicable to that area, and
(3) implementation of the regulations.
The first step in establishing a ground water control area is
for the NRD board of directors to request the DWR to hold a public
hearing to determine whether a ground water control area should be
established. A public hearing is held by the DWR within 120 days
after the NRD request to consider whether a ground water control
area should be established and what its geographic and stratigraphic
boundaries should be. Testimony at the hearing is presented by the
NRD, Conservation and Survey Division (responsible for ground water
monitoring and assessment), Natural Resources Commission (responsible
for state water planning), and the public. After the hearing the
DWR director determines whether a control area should be established.
If the DWR feels that a ground water control area designation is not
warranted it can refuse to make that designation, regardless of the
wishes of the NRD.
The sole criterion in determining whether a control area should
be established is whether the ground water supply is inadequate to
meet present or reasonably foreseeable needs. In determining the
inadequacy of supply the DWR director must find that at least one
of the following conditions is met: (1) conflicts between users are
occurring or may be reasonably anticipated; (2) substantial economic
hardships exist or are foreseeable as a direct result of current or
anticipated ground water declines; or (3) other conditions exist that
indicate the inadequacy of the ground water supply or that require the
area be designated as a control area for protection of the public
After a ground water control area has been designated, decisions
must be made regarding what ground water regulations to establish.
Alternative ground water controls authorized by the GWMA include:
(1) well spacing restrictions, (2) rotation of pumping restrictions,
(3) allocation of ground water (i.e., limitation of withdrawals) and
(4) moratoria on well drilling. In addition, an NRD may adopt other
reasonable ground water controls not specifically authorized.
A public hearing is held within 60 days after a control area is
designated to consider which controls should be adopted. The purpose
of this hearing is for the NRD board to present potential ground water
regulations to the public for their consideration. After the hearing
the NRD board must adopt ground water regulations, which must be
approved by the DWR before they become effective. If controls are not
adopted by the NRD within a year after the ground water controls
hearing has been held, ground water controls are established by the
DWR. While the ground water regulations remain in effect until they
are repealed or amended, a moratorium on well drilling lasts only one
year. The moratorium, however, may be renewed annually after a public
hearing and with DWR approval.
The major role for implementing the regulations lies with the NRD
board. The role of the DWR is essentially to prevent hasty or
unreasonable action by an NRD. Within these broad limits the major
decisions regarding ground water controls are made by the NRD board,
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
which in turn is directly responsible to its constituents.
The NRD can enforce the regulations by ordering a user to stop
using his well. If the user fails to do so, the NRD can go to court
for an injunction. The NRD can also penalize a violator by reducing
future allocations. The GWMA does not explicitly authorize
imposing a fine for violation of a ground water regulation, suggest-
ing the Legislature did not intend to grant that authority.
Miscellaneous Items Authorized by the GWMA
The GWMA authorizes a NRD board to levy up to a one-fourth mill
general property tax to finance control area administration. A higher
levy may be authorized by a popular vote within the control area.
The GWMA also establishes a requirement for well permits. Under
current law no state permit is required to drill a well but a well
not used solely for domestic purposes must be registered with the DWR
within 30 days after the well has been completed. Once a ground water
control area is designated, however, a permit from the DWR is required
to drill a non-domestic well or to enlarge a domestic well to an
Finally, the GWMA requires all NRDs to establish and enforce
runoff regulations, regardless of whether a control area has been
established. The objective of runoff regulations is to force ground
water conservation by requiring each user to prevent irrigation water
from leaving his land. This is being accomplished by constructing
reuse pits, and through scheduling of irrigation water applications.
Experience Under the Ground Water Management Act
As of September 1, 1978,five ground water control area hearings
have been held under the GWMA. Two requests for ground water control
area designation have been denied, two have been granted, and one
is pending. In one control area, ground water control regulations
have been established by the NRD and approved by the DWR.
The control area requests that were denied involved relatively
small artesian aquifers. In both cases irrigation development had
caused seasonal reductions in artesian pressure, which interfered
with individual domestic wells. The DWR concluded that the problem
involved primarily a one-time adjustment to those changed circum-
stances, and that adequacy of the ground water supply was not
The first ground water control area was established in Upper
Republican NRD in southwest Nebraska. Ground water declines within
the control area of up to 25 feet within the last ten years have
occurred, with more substantial declines projected. The control area
covers 2600 square miles, including an estimated 2400 irrigation wells
which irrigate nearly 310,000 acres or 19% of the land within the
control area. Ground water controls have been established and are
The second control area was established in the Upper Big Blue
NRD. The Upper Big Blue control area is in southeast Nebraska and
encompasses 2700 square miles, including 9400 irrigation wells
irrigating 1.1 million acres or 66% of the land. The NRD has not yet
developed ground water controls. However, metering of wells and
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
allocation of ground water withdrawals are likely. The Upper
Republican and Upper Big Blue control areas represent the two major
areas of ground water depletion in Nebraska.
IV. EVALUATION OF GROUND WATER CONTROLS AUTHORIZED
BY THE GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT ACT
The effectiveness of each ground water control option authorized
by the GWMA depends on what one wishes to achieve. As different
parties desire different results, a ground water control is not
necessarily good or bad: what is good for one individual may be
bad for another. The analyst, therefore, can only assess the impact
of each option on those decision variables or evaluation criteria
which are important to those making ground water management decisions.
Ground water decision makers in Nebraska appear to be most concerned
about: (1) administrative feasibility of control options, including
costs, (2) economic efficiency, including farm production and
allocative efficiency, (3) equity among irrigators, and (4) water
quantity impacts. These criteria are the reference points for this
evaluation of the GWMA's management options.
The options to be evaluated are those identified earlier:
rotation of pumping, drilling moratoria, well spacing, and ground
water allocation. These options imply a rather narrow definition
of management, because they all are directed at allocating existing
ground water among users over time. Other aspects of ground water
management, such as conjunctive use and artificial recharge, are not
addressed by the GWMA and are not considered here. Each ground water
control will be discussed separately before combinations of controls
Under current statutes well spacing requirements are used to
reduce direct interference among nearby wells. In addition, well
spacing can be a method of controlling the level of irrigation
development and, consequently, the amount of ground water withdrawals.
The GWMA authorizes NRDs to impose spacing distances greater than
statutory spacing requirements within a control area.
Well spacing requirements affect only the density and the
location of new wells. Current withdrawals are not affected, and
future withdrawals are affected only to the extent that spacing
restrictions preclude development that would otherwise have occurred.
In areas where dense well development has not occurred, spacing can
have a significant impact on future ground water withdrawals, providing
it is not possible to escape the potential impact of spacing through
the construction of higher yielding wells. The tendency to mitigate
the water conservation impacts of spacing through development of
larger wells can be prevented, however, by requiring greater spacing
distances for higher capacity wells.
Well spacing regulations are perhaps the easiest of all the
options to administer, except for possible legal complications. In a
control area permits are required from the DWR for new wells,
excluding domestic wells. Since most existing irrigation wells
already are registered, well spacing restrictions could be efficiently
administered by the DWR. Permits would be granted only when the
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
new well would not violate spacing requirements vis-a-vis registered
wells. Enforcement of well spacing relative to domestic or non-
registered wells is more difficult, as the DWR does not have informa-
tion regarding their existence or location. This problem could be
handled by requiring the well driller or ground water user to verify
that his proposed well does not violate spacing requirements, with
stiff penalties for noncompliance.
Enforcement of well spacing regulations where the right to use
ground water is based on land ownership rather than being based on a
state permit independent of land ownership, presents the only
potential administrative difficulty. A landowner denied a right to
drill a well by a well spacing regulation might challenge the
constitutionality of the regulation in court, arguing that the
restriction prevented him from exercising a private property right
without compensation. However, this would cause only a temporary
administrative problem. If the courts ruled in favor of the spacing
requirement no further challenges would arise. If the courts invali-
dated well spacing requirements where they precluded additional
development, the constitutionality of the approach could be established
by legislative actions making rights to use ground water dependent on
obtaining a state permit.
Well spacing regulations are a relatively efficient approach to
ground water management, as they place no restrictions on how the
water is used: irrigators or industrial users can use the water they
have access to for its highest value and therefore its most efficient
use. Economic inefficiency would occur only to the extent that well
spacing forces the use of well locations or well capacities that cause
higher water access costs than would otherwise occur.
Well spacing requirements which prevent direct interference among
nearby wells are probably an equitable way of coping with a common
problem. However, under circumstances where spacing becomes stringent
enough to preclude development, severe inequities may result. Early
developers get the water, while those who have not yet developed are
denied access even though they may have paid an "irrigable price" for
land in anticipation of developing it for irrigation.
In summary, well spacing is a relatively efficient, equitable and
easily administered method of reducing well interference, but not an
effective method for reducing ground water withdrawals. A withdrawal
impact will occur only in cases where spacing requirements signifi-
cantly reduce further development. The impact of such restrictions
gives a considerable and perhaps unfair advantage to current water
Well Drilling Moratoria
The GWMA authorizes NRDs to declare annual moratoria on well
drilling within all or part of a control area, subject to approval by
the DWR. The GWMA suggests that this extreme measure should be used
only on a temporary basis when other ground water controls alone are
insufficient to protect the public interest.
A drilling moratorium that continues in effect for many years
would substantially affect long-term ground water withdrawals in
areas.where substantial additional development would occur if no
moratorium existed. The short-term impact on withdrawals would be
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
minimal, however, because a moratorium would do nothing to reduce the
amount of water withdrawn from existing wells.
The moratorium option could be administered by merely having the
DWR deny well drilling permits to anyone within the area where the
moratorium is desired. The only administrative problem involves
the potential constitutional problems regarding state authority to
deny land owners access to ground water without compensation. This
legal question has been discussed above regarding the validity of
well spacing restrictions that deny access to ground water.
Well drilling moratoria are a reasonably efficient way of slowing
increases in ground water withdrawals providing that currently
irrigated lands are generally more productive than potentially
irrigable lands, which seems likely. Current users are permitted to
use their water in the most profitable (efficient) manner and the
available water is used on the most productive lands.
A permanent moratorium on drilling insures that ground water will
be managed for current users only; those who had not used ground water
could not do so. This gives a considerable and perhaps unfair
advantage to those current users. A temporary moratorium would only
postpone new ground water development, but would be less subject to
criticism for being unfair to those who have not yet developed ground
In summary, a drilling moratorium is the most extreme measure in
the GWMA. It is an easily administered and efficient but inequitable
approach to ground water management. The inequities between current
and prospective users make long term or permanent moratoria unattrac-
tive and questionable on constitutional grounds. A temporary
moratorium, however, may be useful as a means of gaining time to
develop more complex but equitable ground water regulations.
The rotation option in Nebraska's GWMA authorizes NRDs to control
when a well may be pumped. The authority is broad: a daily, weekly,
monthly, or yearly pumping rotation, or some combination thereof,
could be adopted.
Rotation of pumping is an indirect control on the amount of
water pumped. The expected impact on withdrawals would depend
primarily on the time dimension of a rotation program. If irrigators
were permitted to pump three out of four days, effect on withdrawals
would be minimal; if the rotation wereone out of four days or every
other year, the water quantity impact could be substantial. However,
if the pumping period were severely limited, strong incentives would
develop to increase well capacities, increase the number of wells,
or to modify management techniques, e.g., fill the soil profile in
the fall prior to the year when pumping is prohibited. For these
reasons a rotation regulation might have only mixed success in
limiting ground water withdrawals. This technique may have consider-
able merit, however, as a means of managing artesian aquifers where if
everyone pumps at the same time the artesian pressure is lost.
The administrative activities associated with enforcement of a
rotation system would be difficult for intra-season (daily or weekly)
rotation schemes. Constant monitoring of when each well is being
pumped, or spot checks with severe penalties for violators would be
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
required to prevent abuse. Annual rotation schemes would present less
of a problem, because one would have to check much less often to
determine if violations had occurred.
A rotation period of less than one year would be an extremely
inefficient way of managing ground water, as irrigators would be
prevented from applying the optimum amount of water at the optimum
time. Under a rotation system the timing of water applications would
not necessarily coincide with crop needs, resulting in unnecessary
evaporative losses, yield reductions, etc. Annual rotation programs
would be more efficient, because the irrigator could manage his water
applications in optimum fashion during the years he could irrigate.
Some inefficiencies would still result, however, as strong incentives
would be created to over-irrigate during the last part of the irriga-
tion season to carry over as much water as possible into the dryland
year. This would reduce the capacity to take advantage of precipita-
tion which occurred in the following winter.
The inequitable impacts of rotation is perhaps the most signifi-
cant disadvantage associated with the option. Irrigators with high
capacity systems may be able to pump all they need in the time
allowed, while those with low capacity systems may be adversely
In summary, a rotation requirement is inefficient, inequitable
and difficult to administer, especially for intra-year rotation
schemes. Rotation may, however, have merit as a method of maintaining
artesian pressure in localized situations,
Ground Water Allocation (Quantity Limitations)
The GWMA gives NRDs broad authority to limit the amount of water
pumped by ground water users. The GWMA uses the term "allocation" to
refer to the wide range of methods by which the quantity of ground
water withdrawn might be restricted and does not specifically limit
the methods to be used. Therefore, ground water allocations or, more
precisely, pumping limitations, could take several forms. Ground
water allocations: (1) could have different bases, (2) could be for
different allocation time periods, (3) could either be uniform or vary
according to crop needs or aquifer conditions, (4) could restrict
where water is used, and (5) could be established at different
quantity levels. Each variable will, therefore, be considered
Alternative bases for allocation. The alternative bases for
allocation include: allocation per well, per irrigated acre, per
irrigable acre, and by crop.
(1) Allocation per well. A per well allocation approach consists
of limiting the amount of ground water irrigators pump from each of
their wells to some amount per time period. The advantages of this
approach are that total ground water withdrawals are easily estimated
and administration is relatively simple: meter all wells and spot
check them periodically. The principle disadvantage is that allocation
per well is inefficient. Irrigators with high yielding wells would
have an incentive to drill additional wells to obtain as much water as
they had used prior to the regulations, which would increase the
average cost per unit of irrigation water. Related to the efficiency
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
S problem is the inequity of allocation per well. An irrigator with two
wells per quarter section would be much less affected than an irrigator
with one well per quarter section.
(2) Allocation per irrigated acre. Allocation on a per irrigated
acre basis is defined here as giving each landowner an allocation
for each contiguous tract of irrigated land equal to the number of
irrigated acres in the tract multiplied by the per acre amount. This
approach implicitly assumes that a ground water user could apply more
than the per acre allocation to some acres within a tract and less to
A per irrigated acre approach is efficient as the ground water
user can use his allocation where it is most productive. It is also
easily administered as only total ground water withdrawals need be
monitored. The only major difficulty involves defining what an
irrigated acre is. If an irrigated acre is defined as any land upon
which any quantity of irrigation water is applied, an irrigator could
increase his allocation by, e.g., applying an acre inch of water on
his pasture and calling it irrigated land. This problem could be
mitigated somewhat by defining an irrigated acre as any acre upon
which a minimum amount of water is applied, or by calculating a total
allocation based on all the irrigated crops being produced per tract.
(3) Allocation per irrigable acre. This approach would allocate
to a ground water user an amount equal to the total number of irrigable
acres he had multiplied by a specified acre inch limitation with no
restrictions on how the water is used within a tract. Whether or not
he actually irrigated all his irrigable land would not affect his
allocation. This approach would be more equitable and more efficient
than basing allocations on acres irrigated, but also presents difficult
A per irrigable acre approach would be equitable, because it
treats both current and prospective irrigators equally. This approach
also contributes to enhanced efficiency, because irrigators would have
more flexibility regarding when and where they use water. br example,a
farmer with 300 acres of irrigable land might find it financially
advantageous to develop only part of it for irrigation, and concentrate
his allocation on fewer acres, or he might decide to delay development
and accumulate unused rights for use in later years. No other basis
for allocation permits this flexibility. This means, however, that a
ground water user will not necessarily use his allocation judiciously.
If he has sufficient undeveloped but irrigable land he would have
little incentive to carefully ration the water on his irrigated land.
The administrative problems associated with allocation on an
irrigable acre basis are severe, but probably not insurmountable. The
fundamental difficulty involves defining an irrigable acre. Histori-
cally, irrigability has been defined based upon soil type and slope,
but center-pivot distribution systems have made it possible to
irrigate lands long believed to be non-irrigable. Furthermore, even
if a set of irrigability criteria could be agreed upon by an NRD
board, considerable room for debate and judgment would remain regarding.
which unirrigated lands met the criteria.
(4) Allocation per crop. Allocations could be based on crop
needs. Under this system each ground water user would receive an
allocation equal to some proportion of total crop needs times the
number of acres of each crop produced. The crops produced would
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
determine the amount of the allocation, but the groundwater user would
not be restricted regarding how much he applies to any given crop. For
example, an irrigator who produced 100 acres of corn and 50 acres of
grain sorghum might receive a total allocation equal to 100 x 16
inches plus 50 x 8 inches or 2000 acre inches, but might choose to
apply 17 inches to his corn and 6 inches to his sorghum (100 x 17
plus 50 x 6 = 2000).
An allocation per crop would be fairly easy to administer and
reasonably equitable and efficient, providing the ground water user
was not restricted in where within a given tract he used his total
allocation. The only serious problem with this approach is that the
ground water user would have no incentive to produce lower water using
crops, and therefore the desired impact on withdrawals might be
difficult to achieve.
Allocation time period. Allocations could be made for one year or
for several years. In addition, carryover of unused allocations may
or may not be allowed.
A single year allocation, without carryover provisions, would mean
that an irrigator would have to use his allocation during the year in
which it is granted, or lose it. The principle disadvantage of this
approach is that it does not offer the irrigator any incentive to use
less than his full allocation through good management or because of
unusually high rainfall. It is also economically inefficient over the
long run because irrigators are not given the opportunity to obtain
maximum profits per unit of water consumed. For example, if an
irrigator were allocated 12 inches per acre in years one and two, it
might be more profitable to use 10 inches in year one and 14 inches
in year two, due to rainfall variations or other factors. A single
year allocation without carryover provisions would prevent this
management choice. This could be avoided by permitting carryover of
an unused allocation to future years.
A multi-year allocation would consist of giving irrigators some
amount of water to use over several years. Such a program might
consist of 60 inches over four years, 45 inches over three years, etc.
Essentially it would mean that irrigators could pump any amount they
wanted per year until their total multi-year allocation was exhausted.
This differs from a single-year allocation, with carryover provisions,
primarily in that the multi-year approach would permit borrowing from
future years. An irrigator granted 15 inches per acre per year for
each of the next five years (single-year allocations) would not be
permitted to use more than 15 inches the first year, 30 inches in the
first two years, etc. However, if he were given a five year alloca-
tion of 75 inches he could use more than the annual average during
any year until his total allocation had been consumed.
An additional difference between single-year and multi-year
allocation systems concerns the level of uncertainty with respect to
future allocation levels. If single year allocations are not made
several years in advance, irrigators would be unable to evaluate the
relative value of carryovers, i.e., determine whether they should use
less this year and more next year. Multi-year allocations allow for
advance planning, which would contribute substantially to economic
efficiency. Note, however, that this could be achieved with annual
allocations by granting them several years in advance. The ground
water user would know how much ground water he could use for the next
several years, but would not be able to borrow ahead.
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
Variability of allocation. A ground water allocation could be
uniform, or could be varied, because of either different crop water
requirements or different aquifer conditions. The issue of uniformity
involves numerous tradeoffs between ease of administration, equity,
and impact on withdrawals. It is easier to administer uniform alloca-
tions, but they could be considered inequitable to the extent that
needs are variable. Water needs depend on different circumstances
such as precipitation, amount of subsoil moisture available, type of
water distribution system, and soil type. The impact of a uniform
allocation on irrigators would therefore vary widely, and perhaps
inequitably. However, it could also be argued on philosophical
grounds that all landowners should have equal rights to use the
available ground water supply regardless of their relative needs.
Allocations could also be varied according to aquifer conditions,
with lower allocations in areas of severest depletion to reflect the
reduced availability of ground water. Difficulties in defining where
these "critical" areas exist, however, could make administration of
variable allocations more difficult.
Location of use of allocation. Allocations could be restricted
to the land on which they are based. Alternatively, allocations
could be transferable in one of two ways: (1) an amount greater
than that allocated per acre could be pumped for use on a particular
tract by pumping and applying less on another ("pooling of alloca-
tions") and (2) physical transfer of ground water between tracts
belonging to the same or to a different ownership unit could be
The principle advantage of allowing pooling of allocations and
ground water transfers is that they may substantially improve economic
efficiency. Pooling and transfers allow an irrigator to use his
allocation where it will produce the most, which means increased
profit per unit of water (farm-level economic efficiency) without
any change in total water consumed. This generalization holds true
for both pooling of allocations and water transfers because unless
there were some efficiency gains from transfers they would not occur.
The principle difficulty with permitting water transfers is that
inequities can result. If permitting transfers results in irrigator
X pumping more from well A and less from well B, neighbors to well A
may be adversely affected by the increased pumping, while neighbors
to well B are positively affected by the reduced pumping. Whether or
not this inequity occurs would depend on the distance between wells
A and B and hydrologic characteristics of the aquifer. It is also
significant to note that the inequities would be more severe if well A
is located in an area with especially limited ground water supplies.
An additional problem associated with ground water transfers is
that their status has not been legally defined either in the GWMA or
by court decision. Courts in other western states have invalidated
ground water transfers. Without clear direction from the legislature
Nebraska courts might follow the decisions from other states and
A potentially attractive policy which would capture some
efficiency gains while minimizing inequities might consist of per-
mitting water transfers between lands or between wells that are
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
quantity of water allocated. The last issue involves determining
how much water to allocate to irrigators over time. This issue could
be approached in a number of ways, but the central question is: how
many current economic returns are decision makers willing to sacrifice
to prolong aquifer life? If a zero sacrifice is desired, the proper
allocation level would consist of an amount that eliminates waste,
but is sufficient to meet full irrigation demands. On the other
extreme, if decision makers were willing to sacrifice any amount in
order to prevent further ground water mining, the appropriate alloca-
tion would be that amount where average annual net withdrawals plus
natural discharge would equal average annual net recharge.
In practice, the selection of an allocation level is likely to
be a continually evolving activity. The lack of economic impact and
hydrologic information, plus political constraints, will probably
mean that initial allocation levels will be rather high (seek to
eliminate waste only) followed by gradual reductions over many years.
As allocations are gradually reduced, decision makers will learn more
about the current economic cost of reduced withdrawals and the impact
on ground water levels. This will enable them to make better informed,
long-term decisions regarding the tradeoffs between prolonged aquifer
life and short-term economic returns.
Summary Assessment of Allocation
Allocation is a powerful tool for managing ground water resources.
Although none of the allocation options are simultaneously efficient,
easily administered, and equitable, allocation appears quite favor-
The most desirable basis for making allocations appears to be
irrigated acres. Allocation per well is inequitable, and allocation
per irrigable acre would be difficult to administer.
The most desirable time period for allocations would be to make
single-year allocations several years in advance, with carryover of
unused allocations to future years permitted. This gives the ground
water user the opportunity to use his allocation when it is needed
most, and prevents exhaustion of the allocation before the end of the
allocation period. The latter may be advantageous to prevent
development of political pressures to relax allocation policies.
Allocations could either be uniform or varied according to
aquifer conditions. Varying allocations to crop needs would not
provide incentives to grow crops that required less water.
Pooling of allocations and ground water transfers would allow
irrigators to use water where it was most productive. Safeguards
should be developed to prevent interference between nearby wells.
Establishing what quantity of water to allocate depends on what
ground water reservoir management policies are selected. Whether a
ground water mining approach, a "safe-yield" approach, or intermediate
approach is most desirable depends on the economic, hydrologic,
geographic, and political factors of each ground water control area.
V. REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED UNDER
THE GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT ACT
The Upper Republican is the only NRD with established ground
water control rules and regulations approved by the DWR. The
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
regulations establish that allocation of ground water will be the major
ground water control mechanism. Allocation will be phased in gradually,
beginning with the metering of existing wells, with mandatory alloca-
tions for all ground water development within "critical" townships
where the average reduction in aquifer saturated thickness is greater
than one percent per year. Implementation of these controls is
expected to result in significant reductions in ground water with-
drawals within the control area over time.
Evaluation of the Upper Republican Regulations
The ground water management regulations established by the Upper
Republican NRD are the first attempt to .implement the various ground
water management controls authorized by the GWMA. As most of the
controls authorized by the Act are used, the Upper Republican regula-
tions are a representative combination of ground water controls to be
The regulations establish allocation of ground water as the major
ground water management tool. This is appropriate because allocation
appears to be the most practical, efficient, and fair method for
reducing the level of ground water withdrawals. Mandatory allocation
is delayed until 1980 when meters will be installed on all wells, but
incentives are created for early metering and participation in a vol-
untary allocation program. Delaying mandatory allocation appears to
be advisable for two reasons. First, with over 2000 irrigation wells
to meter, installation of meters will take time. Second, and more
important, the phasing in of controls will give local landowners more
time to adjust to the idea and impact of ground water controls. This
latter point is important as a high degree of voluntary cooperation
and political acceptance is necessary to make the ground water man-
agement program effective. If the NRD board moved too aggressively,
a new board unsympathetic to the program could be elected to dismantle
The basis of allocation is irrigated acres. The only aspect of
this which creates problems is that the regulations impede concentrat-
ing (or "pooling") an allocation among tracts and physical ground
water transfers among tracts. These restrictions may prevent an irri-
gator from using his allocation where it would be most productive, i.e.,
allowing an irrigator to use more water on his better land and less
on poorer land. An advantage of this approach, however, is that
determination of what constitutes an irrigated acre is simplified:
an irrigated acre is simply an acre that is fully irrigated, as irri-
gators cannot use more water on some land and less on other.
The initial level of allocation projected, between 14 and 17
acre inches per irrigated acre, is substantially lower than the average
used by most users within the control area. In addition, the NRD board
established a goal of limiting annual declines to less than one percent
of the remaining saturated thickness, which may lead to still lower
quantities allocated. This goal is apparently intended to apply only
to isolated areas where relative ground water depletions are greatest,
because on an area-wide basis, annual depletions currently amount to
less than one percent of the remaining water in storage.
The period of allocation is five years, giving irrigators more
flexibility in using their allocations. Under a multi-year allocation
GROUND WATER MANAGEMENT
an irrigator can use his allocation in advance, as well as carry over
an unused allocation to another allocation period. A more restrictive
policy which retains considerable flexibility would be to establish
single-year allocations for a given period. Irrigators would still
be able to carry over unused allocations and plan their irrigation
programs for a multi-year period. Irrigators could not, however, use
up their allocations before the end of the multi-year period. This
could prevent political pressures to relax an allocation policy if
many irrigators approach the end of an allocation period with no allo-
Strict well spacing requirements are established in townships
where the average reduction in saturated thickness is greater than one
percent per year. The well spacing requirements may be a hardship to
some landowners. Where a landowner has already developed for irriga-
tion, restrictions on further development may be reasonable if ground
water supplies are being depleted. If a landowner has developed no
land for irrigation, however, and is precluded from doing so by a well
spacing regulation, he is being penalized for not having developed
sooner. This problem could be mitigated by giving the DWR discretion
to issue a permit for a new well in hardship cases.
The regulations established by the Upper Republican NRD provide
the basis for an effective ground water management program. While
more flexible well spacing requirements and fewer restrictions on
ground water and ground water allocation transfers may be desirable,
these and other modifications may evolve as the NRD board has more
experience with the management program.
VI. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The Nebraska Ground Water Management Act permits ground water
users to administratively impose controls on themselves working through
local multipurpose Natural Resources Districts. The crucial ground
water control decisions--whether ground water control area designation
should be requested and what ground water controls should be imposed--
are made by a locally elected board of directors. In a state where
the right to use ground water free from governmental restraint is a
jealously guarded tradition, the local control aspect is a crucial
component of the GWMA. The state role is limited to the determination
of whether a control area designation is warranted, determination of
control area boundaries, approval of NRD ground water controls, and
issuance of permits to wells drilled within a control area. The state
cannot initiate ground water controls.
The GWMA authorizes a variety of controls: well spacing regula-
tions, rotation of pumping, allocation of ground water (i.e., limita-
tions of withdrawals), and well drilling moratoria.
Well spacing requirements are an effective means of reducing or
preventing interference among wells, but they do not have a significant
impact on ground water withdrawals unless they severely limit the
density of development. If well spacing requirements are strict enough
to have an impact on withdrawals, they are inequitable in that ground
water is being managed only for the benefit of present users.
Well drilling moratoria are not an attractive ground water control
mechanism.on equity grounds. If drilling of new wells is prevented,
the ground water is being managed for the benefit of those who caused
IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE AND WATER RESOURCES
the problem--the present users. This unfairly discriminates against
those who might use ground water in the future if permitted to do so.
Rotation of pumping is another unattractive ground water control
mechanism, primarily because it discriminates against ground water
users with low-capacity wells. In addition, rotation schemes will
disrupt irrigation patterns if the rotation period is shorter than
annual. Finally, administration of an intra-seasonal rotational pump-
ing scheme would be difficult. Rotational pumping might be appropriate
in managing artesian aquifers, however.
The most powerful ground water management tool is allocation
(i.e., restricting ground water withdrawals). Allocation schemes can
be varied according to the basis of allocation (so much ground water
per irrigated acre, per irrigable acre, etc.), and the amount and
duration of the allocation (15 acre inches per irrigated acre per year,
75 acre inches per irrigable acre for five years, etc.). The most
practical basis for allocation is per irrigated acre without restric-
tions regarding how much water is applied on each acre. A single-year
allocation with carryover provisions is the most attractive allocation
period if allocations are made for several years in advance to give the
irrigator some discretion in how he uses his allocation over time.
The GWMA appears to be an effective mechanism for managing ground
water declines associated with irrigation. As such, it is a model
which states interested in ground water controls should consider.
Because it represents a first step toward total ground water management
however, some limitations in the GWMA should be noted.
The principle limitations include the following: 1) bases for
establishing a ground water control area are perhaps too narrow, omit-
ting artesian aquifer management, protection of ground water quality
and conflicts among competing ground and surface water users; 2) con-
trols can be initiated only by an NRD, even when failure to act would
have impacts outside the NRD; 3) fines to enforce regulations are not
specifically authorized; and 4) ground water use charges and other
authorities to integrate ground water and surface water use, including
artificial recharge, are not granted.
In spite of these limitations, the Nebraska Ground Water Manage-
ment Act represents a significant step in ground water management
policy and is an approach other states may wish to consider.