Economics of Groundwater-Pumping Level Statutes

by Dean T. Massey, USDA Economic Research Service, Natural Resource Economics Div, Madison, WI, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Economics and Groundwater


Pumping from one well may lower the water table in another to the point where pumping from it becomes unfeasible. Problems exist in allocating the increased costs of pumping caused by the falling water table. Most appropriation doctrine states now have statutes that only protect a reasonable groundwater pumping level for senior appropriators. These statutes either refer to water level in the ground or pumping lift to the surface. Some states indicate that economic factors should affect the measure of reasonableness in establishing pumping levels and they do this either by protecting the senior appropriators against a decline in water level beyond their economic capacity to continue to pump or by having a concern with achieving overall economic development of the groundwater resources. The appropriation doctrine has been used to both regulate overdevelopment of groundwater and to promote its development.

Subject Headings: Water resources | Water table | Groundwater | Water level | Legislation | Pumps | Groundwater management | High-rise buildings

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