The Effectiveness of a Water Right Retirement Program at Conserving Water

Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Dietrich Earnhart


This study employs a difference-in-differences framework to assess the effectiveness of the 2008–2012 pilot phase of the Kansas Water Right Transition Assistance Program at reducing either groundwater or surface water use. We distinguish between two program components: creek subbasins and designated High Priority Areas. Results demonstrate that water right retirement in the High Priority Areas substantially reduced groundwater use. Regardless of the program component, we find no effect on surface water use. Our conclusions are robust to various specifications. This study is the first to directly estimate the effect of water right retirement or any form of restriction on irrigation-related water rights. (JEL Q15, Q28)

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