A Gaming Analysis of Drought-Coping Policy Options

by James L. Henderson, The Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,
William B. Lord, The Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,
Russell L. Gum, The Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Policy and Management: Solving the Problems


Eight persons, representing the seven Colorado River Basin state and the Secretary of the Interior, managed a severe, sustained drought in the basin. The drought was portrayed by a simulation model of the hydrologic, engineering, legal, and economic system. The subjects interacted dynamically with each other, and with the unfolding drought in three gaming exercises. The rules governing their interactions during the three exercises were (1) existing collective decision making rules, (2) an interstate compact commission and, (3) free interstate water marketing. The gaming disclosed that (1) consumptive water uses are well protected from drought, (2) non-consumptive water uses are highly vulnerable to drought, (3) non-consumptive uses are highly competitive with consumptive uses, (4) existing rules distribute drought risk unevenly between states, (5) easily-achieved rule changes have little effect on drought impacts, (6) states were able to manage drought most effectively by adjusting their own internal water allocation and management rules and, (7) the lower basin's vulnerability to chronic water shortages and the upper basin's vulnerability to sporadic drought create the opportunity for adopting positive-sum rule changes.

Subject Headings: Game theory | Hydrologic models | Hydrologic engineering | Simulation models | Systems engineering | Hydrology | Legislation | Rivers and streams | Colorado River

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