Introduction When water use problems cannot be effectively solved by individual or local initiative, the public sector has acted to achieve a balance. In most cases, government management policies have included imposition of regulations. For example, in the Upper Colorado Basin as anticipated water use increases, water quality questions arise regarding downstream water use (Padungchai, 1980; Wyoming State Engineer, 1977b; and Hyatt, 1970). The government policy includes among others a salinity standard administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While salinity does not impose much damage to water users in the Upper Basin, significant damages are imposed on water users in the Lower Basin in the form of crop damage, decreased soil productivity, high treatment costs, pipe corrosion and greater use of detergents and chemicals.
An agreement between Upper Basin States and ERA in 1974, requires that salinity not exceed 1972 levels at Lee's Ferry, Arizona. In 1976, EPA imposed salinity standards below Hoover Dam, Parker Dam and Imperial Dam in the Lower Basin. Anticipated energy and agricultural development In the Upper Colorado River Basin states could be affected by the salinity standards imposed by the EPA. For example, surface mining operations for coal, oil shale and tar sands will expose new geologic materials to the atmosphere and could contribute additional salt to surface and subsurface runoff. Also, additional withdrawals of surface water to meet expanding energy and agriculture needs will increase the salt concentration of remaining river flows. Thus, the appropriation of presently unused surface water for energy, agricultural and domestic purposes could increase the salinity for downstream users.
This paper focuses on the welfare implications associated with increased agricultural and energy development within the Green River drainage basin, an area of rapid energy development in Wyoming, both with and without EPA salinity regulations. A secondary objective of this paper is to estimate the impact of alternative water conservation and salinity management practices given the increased development in the basin. The paper is organized in the following manner. The next section discusses the water resources, practices and quality issues of the Green River Basin. The analytic model used in the analysis is discussed in section three and the results, discussion and conclusions are presented in section four.
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