Transfers of water rights in New Mexico's Rio Grande basin : spatiotemporal and sociocultural patterns Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x920g0294

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  • Water right marketing and transfers represent a resource reallocation strategy that has received considerable attention in the American West owing to nearly full appropriation of water in the region. Several western states permit transfers between different uses and places of use thus allowing water to move to higher-value economic activities. While facilitating economic development, reallocation can produce adverse economic, sociocultural, and/or environmental third-party effects. The purpose of this study was to describe transfer characteristics and conformity to a conceptual model, identify spatiotemporal transfer patterns, and determine the degree of association of sociocultural factors with transfer activity in New Mexico's Rio Grande basin (1975-1995). Transfer data from the Office of the State Engineer were merged with 1990 Census data in a geographic information system and stratified into sub-basins. Analytical methods included: comparison of the data with a conceptual model of transfer types, Peuquet's Spatiotemporal Triad Framework to identify patterns on the landscape, and multivariate statistical modeling techniques to identify significant sociocultural variables. The research revealed that transfers primarily involve irrigation-to-higher value use shifts as the conceptual model proposed. Market-based transfers are critically important to expanding municipal water supplies in the study area. Transfer activity was responsible for the retirement of 2,096 acres of farmland in the Middle sub-basin, was intensely clustered in the Upper and Middle sub-basins, and particularly so for growing communities within the former. The spatiotemporal pattern of transfer activity in these communities suggests the operation of a distance-decay function related to urban expansion. Multivariate regression modeling showed variables related to rurality, farming, income, race, and development to be significant variables for the study area and Middle sub-basin. Significant variables in the Upper sub-basin were related to recreational residential development. No important associations were found to occur in the Lower subbasin. The study suggests that economic, environmental, and socio-cultural thirdparty effects of transfer activity are more likely to be felt in the more populous and urbanized Middle sub-basin. Water marketing has implications for agricultural production and land retention in this sub-basin. Third-party effects in Upper subbasin are more likely to be confined to urban places and their immediate hinterlands.
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