The San Francisco Bay-Delta

A failure of decision-making capacity

William Hanemann, Caitlin Dyckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The paper reviews the history of Bay-Delta decision-making in California in order to highlight the continuity between what happened with CALFED and what happened in the preceding decades since water project deliveries began in 1949. Throughout this period, there has been intense conflict about whether and how to transfer water from the Bay-Delta to users elsewhere-a conflict marked by a fundamental opposition of interests among stakeholders. We document how the State of California has failed to organize itself effectively to resolve this conflict and make a decision on how to manage the Delta. The strategy consistently adopted by the State was to encourage the main parties - agricultural and urban water diverters, and fisheries and other instream-protection interests - to work out a solution among themselves, rather than imposing one externally. However, economic theory suggests that a bargaining solution is unlikely to exist because of the extreme opposition of interest among the parties. The Bay-Delta history amply confirms this theoretical prediction. Thus, the State's strategy of relying on voluntary agreement to resolve the issue is fundamentally misconceived and is, at some level, an abdication of its responsibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-725
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

decision making
water
opposition
history
economic theory
fishery
bargaining
continuity
stakeholder
responsibility
prediction
conflict

Keywords

  • Environmental regulation
  • Governance
  • Water law
  • Water policy
  • Zero-sum game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this

The San Francisco Bay-Delta : A failure of decision-making capacity. / Hanemann, William; Dyckman, Caitlin.

In: Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 12, No. 6, 10.2009, p. 710-725.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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