A Panama Canal for California Salmon?

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4 Responses

  1. Wayne Lusvardi says:

    Thanks for the ping back Greg
    What do you think the externalities of this Salmonese Panama Canal will be? Will eco-tourism infect farm crops with bad fungi, will there be saltier water for crops, will new wetlands crop up competing with cropland and protected to boot, or what? How will commercial fishermen coexist with land farmers? There are always unintended consequences. What is really being cultivated is not fish but new political constituencies: commercial fishermen, tourism, eco-tourism, hospitality industry, water view residential development, environmental monitoring, etc. All of these competing constituencies will soon be competing for the adjacent land for their uses. How will that be acquired? By eminent domain? But will these new “takers” pay their fair share of the water system costs or will they remain rent seekers and free loaders?

    • The value of a property rights based system is bottom-up decision making and adjustments. Thousands or tens of thousands of new sports fishers would add to the commotion and costs that campers, backpackers, and kayakers bring to a destination. But rather than try to imagine how the future could be designed around restored California river fishing and recreation, I would just argue for property rights and water markets to begin the process of letting people discover highest value water use through exchange and infrastructure investment.

  2. Wayne Lusvardi says:

    And at what water rate should new users be assessed their fair share of system costs? Should they amortize the $25 billion canal retrofit cost?

    • [Well… reply at bottom was to a different post (flooding Death Valley). Sorry. ]
      Still, similar reasoning that the higher value of riverside property, and salmon fishing is one source of funds. Maybe some housing developments alongside too. Sport salmon fishing is a huge value, but commercial salmon fishing with nets is less so. Thousand of jobs would likely be created supporting sport fishing, as they are with privately-owned streams in Scotland. Returning river and water stewardship to common law institutions (or legislation modeled on common law traditions) could help.

      PERC has post on California water markets: http://www.perc.org/programs/applied-programs/california-water-markets

      [older reply below]
      Good questions. I think the increased real estate value of transforming desert land to lakefront and canal front, would pay for canal costs. Revenue bonds and land sales would cover startup costs (or if they don’t, the project wouldn’t start up).

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