Academic Programs

An important component of the MESM degree at the Bren School is theMaster’s Project. SWM Fellows work with clients to develop Master’sProject proposals that use water markets to solve water resourcesproblems. Once a proposal has been approved, SWM fellows work withteams of 4-5 MESM students for 9 months to complete the project andprovide the client with a high-quality product. Examples of SWM Fellowgroup projects are described below

SWM Fellowship Program
MASTER'S GROUP PROJECTS

The SWM Program
SWM Fellows
Faculty & Staff
Resources
Apply
Connect

An important component of the MESM degree at the Bren School is the Master’s Group Project. SWM Fellows work with clients to develop Group Project proposals focus on using water markets to solve water-resources problems. Once a proposal has been approved, SWM fellows spend nine months working as part of a team of four to five MESM colleagues to complete the project and provide the client with a high-quality product. Examples of SWM Fellow Group Projects are described below.

SWM Fellows, alumni, faculty members, decision makers, and expertsin the environmental water markets fields convene at the Bren Schooleach year to share new ideas and practical experiences, and to discusscritical lessons surrounding the use of water markets as a tool forenvironmental restoration. SWM Fellows, alumni, faculty members, decision makers, and expertsin the environmental water markets fields convene at the Bren Schooleach year to share new ideas and practical experiences, and to discusscritical lessons surrounding the use of water markets as a tool forenvironmental restoration. An important component of the MESM degree at the Bren School is theMaster’s Project. SWM Fellows work with clients to develop Master’sProject proposals that use water markets to solve water resourcesproblems. Once a proposal has been approved, SWM fellows work withteams of 4-5 MESM students for 9 months to complete the project andprovide the client with a high-quality product. Examples of SWM Fellowgroup projects are described below.Creating an Urban Market for Water Trading in Southern California
This project examined the benefits of a market for urban-to-urban water transfers in Southern California. The results of this study identified potential gains from trade under a market system and how the existence of a market might incentivize conservation. This project provided the Long Beach Water District (LBDWD) with information to guide their internal water management and conservation plans, as well as to engage in discussion with other Southern California urban water agencies regarding how best to manage water regionally going into the future. The significance of this research may therefore extend beyond LWBD and benefit water users throughout Southern California by encouraging conservation and economic efficiency through water trading. Further benefits may be realized as a result of a more robust and flexible water management system, reduced water use overall, promotion of sustainable development, and the associated environmental benefits these practices afford. Visit the project website.

Down the Drain, Preparing for the Future of the Colorado River: An Evaluation and Analysis of Physical, Economic and Policy Implications of Extreme Drought at Lake Mead
Supporting approximately 40 million people and irrigating more than 1.8 million acres of land across seven states and two countries, virtually every drop of the Colorado River is allocated to a consumptive use. With some of the nation’s fasted-growing urban populations depending on the river for their water supply, demand for the Colorado River water is steadily growing. With the addition of climatic variability and prolonged drought, water levels in two key storage reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, have dropped to precipitously low levels recently, increasing stress on current water availability in the basin. Utilizing designated thresholds specified in the Colorado River Interim Guidelines (2007) — Lake Mead (1,075’, 1,050’, 1,025’, and 1,000’), and Lake Powell (3,575’ and 3,525’) — this project evaluated the impacts of declining reservoir levels on hydropower generation, water deliveries to Lower Basin States, recreational use, ecosystems, and water quality in the Lower Colorado River Basin. Visit the project website.

Gallatin Valley Water Exchange: Water Security and Sustainability for Gallatin County
The Gallatin Valley project worked with The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited in western Montana to design a groundwater mitigation project through the development of operational recommendations for a water exchange in the Gallatin River watershed. Ultimately, the exchange will acquire senior surface-water rights from willing sellers, move the water rights through the change-of-use regulatory process to a mitigation purpose, and then sell mitigation credits to new groundwater users. The project addressed the following objectives: determine the pricing structure and tradable units for exchange, define the institutional structure and operation, and assess recharge locations. Visit the project website.

Factors Influencing the Expansion of Environmental Water Markets
The environmental water markets group worked with the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska and Mammoth Trading to assess the factors influencing expansion of environmental water markets in the western US. Growing water demand in the western United States has led to the reduction and even loss of stream flows that provide vital ecological benefits for fish and other wildlife. Environmental water markets provide a means to redistribute water from existing uses to environmental flow smoothly and flexibly. Many factors have obstructed environmental water markets from expanding to a scale that can address widespread flow restoration needs. In order to understand these obstructions and identify how they might be overcome, this project analyzed the demand for and supply of environmental water, legal constraints, and current market approaches, revealing strategies that can expand environmental water markets. The project culminated in specific recommendations for environmental water buyers to: (1) work with water right holders to measure current water uses and identify beneficial approaches for reallocations to streamflow; (2) expand into new areas strategically and conservatively; and (3) utilize diverse funding streams whenever possible to allow for maximum flexibility of approaches. Visit the project website.

Implementing a Community Water Trust as a Mechanism for Environmental Water Allocation in California
Students on this project are working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to determine how to acquire water in the Sacramento Valley for migratory birds in a strategic and financially sustainable manner. The objective of the project is to determine whether TNC’s impact-investment-based Community Water Trust model can be an effective way to fund BirdReturns, a project that provides migratory bird habitat in California’s Sacramento Valley. Visit the project website.