The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The First Ten Years of the Oregon Water Trust

by Janet C. Neuman

Jan 1, 2004
The Oregon Water Trust is a nonprofit corporation that opened its doors and its pocketbook in 1994 to buy water for streamflows. Its portfolio contains eighty-seven current water rights deals, including permanent purchases of water rights, short- and long-term leases, exchange and forbearance agreements, conserved water projects, and nongeneration agreements, all together protecting a total of more than 124 cubic feet per second of water in eleven basins across the state of Oregon. This article offers some observations and generalizations about water markets derived from the Oregon Water Trust's decade of experience. Part II describes the particular perspective that the Oregon Water Trust brings to the discussion of water markets, considering the types of transactions it undertakes, the legal context in which it operates, and its accomplishments to date. Part III examines "the good, the bad, and the ugly" in this particular water market, exploring both the positive and negative aspects of the Water Trust's experience. Part IV concludes that, on balance, the good outweighs the bad. Using the market to restore instream flows has proven itself to be a fair, effective, and efficient approach that can play an important role in future water use and management.

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