Can we retire “Water flows uphill toward money”? — John Fleck

Squeezing money
Squeezing money

From InkStain (John Fleck):

I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole “water flows uphill toward money” thing is not only wrong, but that its wrongness is problematic.

It’s one of those intellectual shortcuts that can be dashed off uncritically, and audiences nod knowingly because of course water flows uphill toward money we all know that, and no further analysis is needed. Sometimes this is right. But across a huge range of water allocation decision making, it is utterly wrong. While “water sometimes flows uphill toward money, while at other times it doesn’t, and we should think carefully about why it is or isn’t the case here” might be more analytically useful, it lacks the rhetorical punch.

Why is this?

Rules. We have water allocation rules that frequently create barriers that make it difficult, if not impossible, to move water, even if the move might be hydrologically possible. I’m not arguing here that this is good or bad. I’m merely trying to point out that “water flows uphill to money” is a myth, and that it gets in the way of sane water policy conversations.

More water law coverage here.

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