Increasing competition for water in Texas is challenging traditional state water management policies on three broad fronts. The greatest of these is the transformation of groundwater from simply a resource to a valuable, privately-owned asset. Second is the diverging disparity in the value of water because of where it comes from and who owns or controls it. And finally, there is growing evidence that the state needs an efficient, effective, market-based method to balance supplies statewide, ameliorate the geographical and legal distinctions of water sources and owners, and mitigate environmental impacts.
This paper examines the transformation of water from resource to asset, how that affects the way landowners view their property‹and each other, the role of the state as both policy shaper and large landowner, the lessons other western states have to teach, and how a statewide water transportation system could balance the supply, demand and the price of this life-giving, life-sustaining resource.