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Researchers representing each of the Colorado River Basin states as well as the Secretary of the Interior were presented with an interactive computer simulation of a progressively increasing drought and were given the collective opportunity to change the ways in which basin-wide and within-state water management were conducted. The purpose of this ?gaming? exercise was to identify rules for managing the Colorado River which are effective in preventing drought-caused damages to basin water users. This water management game was conducted three times, varying the collective choice roles for management of the river yet staying substantially within the current institution for management of the Colorado River known as...
A severe sustained drought in the Colorado River Basin would cause economic damages throughout the Basin. An integrated hydrologic-economic-institutional model introduced here shows that consumptive water users in headwaters states are particularly vulnerable to very large shortfalls and hence large damages because their rights are effectively junior to downstream users. Chronic shortfalls to consumptive users relying on diversions in excess of rights under the Colorado River Compact are also possible. Nonconsumptive water uses (for hydropower and recreation) are severely affected during the worst drought years as instream flows are reduced and reservoirs are depleted. Damages to these uses exceeds those to consumptive...