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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Eco-Entrepreneurship Project

Eco-Entrepreneurship: PWS (Progressive Water Solutions)

Not Pictured

Group Members: Zoe Carlson, Daniel Crocker, Sara Solis, Alexandra Speers, Matthew Young

Faculty Advisors: Gary Libecap


Final Report


Groundwater provides about one third of California’s water resources. Currently, this resource is poorly regulated and not optimally used. Markets can be useful tools for managing natural resources, but informal markets for groundwater are inefficient and underused. This inefficiency provides an opportunity for improvement. Structured markets in which users can choose to buy, sell, or lease groundwater pumping rights need to be an integral part of the solution to California’s groundwater management problem. A business is well-suited to facilitate markets for groundwater rights. Progressive Water Solutions LLC (PWS) will be a groundwater brokerage and consulting firm. Through an innovative online H2O Exchange, PWS will provide groundwater rights holders with a central marketplace to trade pumping rights, offer historical market information to inform user bids, and streamline the process of transferring pumping rights. The H2O Exchange will help water users maximize profits while providing incentives for water conservation. Four groundwater basins were used as case studies to determine the efficacy of the H2O Exchange. The results indicate that a centralized exchange for groundwater would be most beneficial to water users, and profitable to PWS, in basins where 1) water rights are clearly defined, 2) there are many rights holders, and 3) there is a large volume of groundwater rights available for trading. Based on this market analysis, PWS will initially target nine groundwater basins for implementation of the H2O Exchange. As the markets are established, PWS will provide its expertise to groundwater basins beginning to define groundwater rights. 

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