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Managing the Great Lakes Commons: An Evaluation of Recent Institutional Changes

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Easter, K. William; Frerichs, Stephen
Date: 1988
Agency: Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Series: Economic Report ER 88-3
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5062
Sector: Fisheries
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: North America
Subject(s): water resources
fisheries
common pool resources
Great Lakes region
Abstract: "The Great Lakes are a common property resource. Historically, water in the Great Lakes has been an open access, free good. With increasing demands, however, quality water has become, in an economic sense, scarce. The realization that supplies of Great Lakes water may be limited, coupled with several recent judicial decisions regarding the legality of water as a tradeable commodity, have created a growing political awareness of the importance of Great Lakes water resources. This phenomenon is particularly observable at the state political level 3. State governments have historically managed water under state police powers and developed water resources as they were needed. Now, unsure whether a state can prohibit interstate water sales, states are moving to protect water supplies for future development. A new attitude of 'bring the people and industry to the water rather than the water to them' prevails. This has led to strong misgiving and inflexibility about interstate and interbasin water transfers. Often proposals are rejected not for efficiency implications or regional impacts but on the notion of setting a bad precedent. The Great Lakes basin and the Great Lakes states and provinces have been no exception to this trend."

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