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Institutional Factors Influencing Water Development in Texas

W. L. Trock

The development and use of land and water resources has been and will continue to be significantly affected by institutions--legal, cultural, economic, political and religious. Institutions are the organizing and directing mechanisms by which we achieve an organization of resources in productive activities which satisfy human needs. They are essential to individual and collective activity and thus must be understood and managed to achieve our purposes.

In this project, attention has been given to institutions which are important to (1) the implementation of the Texas Water Plan, and (2) the efficient use of water resources in irrigation in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Numerous political and economic institutions must be changed or newly developed to provide for (1) the interbasin diversions proposed by the Texas Water Plan, (2) the creation and management of transfer systems and (3) distribution of water within importing areas and fulfillment of financial obligations. These will be expressed by individuals and groups various points of view relative to water developments and the administration of water supplies. Self interests will be forcefully expressed. Competing users of water will make themselves heard. Institutional arrangements to resolve conflicts, to provide for development of water systems and to insure efficient use of water will be critical to the success of the Plan. Numerous suggestions for institutional changes are made in papers and reports of the research of this project relative to these issues. They cannot be reported in this abstract.

Institutions of particular importance to efficient distribution and use of water in irrigation in the lower Rio Grande Valley are the irrigation districts and their policies and operations plus water rights. While operations of districts could significantly be influenced by consolidation of districts, rehabilitation, and changed managerial policies, there are important barriers to such change. Present low costs of water in districts and the desire to maintain control of irrigation systems policies and procedures in local districts may not allow change to take place. Negotiable water rights are a possibility, and exchange of rights or annual allocations would improve efficiency of water use. District members need to be made aware of consequences of such a change in this institution. An informational program relative to water management would be helpful.

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