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Think-tank for Resources, Energy, and the Environment:
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Cornell University



Louis Sears presented spatial groundwater research


Cornell University TREESPEAR Graduate Research Associate Louis Sears presented his research on on interjurisdictional spatial externalities in groundwater management at the North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International.

When designing groundwater management policies, it is important to account for spatial considerations that may lead groundwater users to behave non-cooperatively. Spatial considerations arise because groundwater users face a common pool resource problem, and spatial externalities resulting from groundwater users’ inability to completely capture the groundwater to which property rights are assigned can lead to over-extraction.

Louis is developing a model of interjurisdictional spatial externalities in groundwater management. He finds that groundwater managers each managing a subset of the plots of land that overlie an aquifer and each behaving non-cooperatively with respect to other groundwater managers will over-extract water relative to the socially optimal coordinated solution if there is spatial movement of water between patches that are managed by different groundwater managers.

Louis applies his model to a detailed spatial data set to analyze and estimate interjurisdictional spatial externalities in groundwater management in California under the policy framework created by the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Louis' research has important implications for the design of policies for sustainable agricultural groundwater management for California and globally.




For further reading:

  • Sears, Louis, C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell, and David Lim. (2019). Interjurisdictional spatial externalities in groundwater management. Working paper, Cornell University.
    [Working paper]
  • Sears, Louis, David Lim, and C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell. (forthcoming). Spatial groundwater management: A dynamic game framework and application to California. Water Economics and Policy.
    [Manuscript] [Published paper]
  • Sears, Louis, and C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell. (2019). Water management and economics. In Gail L. Cramer, Krishna P. Paudel, and Andrew Schmitz (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Agricultural Economics (pp. 269-284). London: Routledge.
    [Manuscript] [Publication]
  • Sears, Louis, David Lim, and C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell. (2018). The economics of agricultural groundwater management institutions: The case of California. Water Economics and Policy, 4 (3), 1850003.
    [Manuscript] [Published paper]