Academic Programs

    Walton Family Foundation Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program
    Fellowship Support for Master of Environmental Science & Management (MESM) and PhD Degrees

    Water markets are gaining traction as a valuable tool for
    maintaining stream flows and promoting efficient water
    use in agricultural and urban settings. The Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship program supports MESM and PhD students who study both market mechanisms that can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of water exchange and help keep water in rivers, as well as the science that informs the structure and operation of water markets.


    As a result of climate change and demographic shifts, demand for water in many parts of the United States is either now or will be in the future, much greater than what available supplies can provide. With so much stress on water resources, especially in the arid Southwest, wise and efficient use of water — both to meet human needs and to maintain important ecosystems — is more important than ever.

    Water markets can provide the structures and the incentives for wise use and efficient allocation of water among various users. They can help to overcome situations, such as that in the Colorado River Basin, where claims on water resources far exceed supplies. But because of the “use it or lose it” nature of water rights (in which an entity that does not use all the water allotted to it in one year loses the right to that same amount of unused water in all future years), farmers are incentivized to use water inefficiently when they don't need it simply to protect their access to water when they need it in the future. In the absence of market institutions, there may be no way to transfer water rights temporarily, and there are no price signals to support water transfers that would result in more efficient water use.

    The presence of a well‐defined water market would enable parties, such as farmers who have senior water rights and low‐value crops, to sell or lease water to other parties, such as farmers who are growing high‐value crops, urban users who are willing to pay a higher price, or environmental groups, which may want to acquire water rights for such environmental purposes as stream‐flow restoration. The Bren School's Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship program is designed to generate new knowledge while developing students who can make a big difference in the growing field of water markets.

    Faculty affiliated with the SWM Fellowship program are widely recognized experts in particular areas of water science, management, economics and policy. Meet the Bren School SWM faculty.

    Meet the newest cohort of SWM fellows.
    Meet the second cohort of SWM fellows.
    Meet the first cohort of SWM fellows.

    Read more about water markets in publications by Bren School faculty and other water market experts.