The Economics of American Indian Water Rights

EPA Grant Number: U914925
Title: The Economics of American Indian Water Rights
Investigators: Steenstra, Alex
Institution: University of Utah
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1996 through January 1, 1999
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Economics , Tribal Environmental Health Research , Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice


The objective of this research project is to develop an interdisciplinary method of valuing Indian water rights and recommend an alternative quantification method to better define Indian water rights to end the uncertainty surrounding tribal claims on the mostly allocated waters of the West. This research project demonstrates that the use of Indian water will promote further economic development and environmental quality on and off reservations if tribes are allowed to freely market their water. This research project proposes the Indian Water Rights Impact Statement (IWRIS) as an alternative method to determine the quantity and use of tribal water.


Because the American Indian water conflict and prospects for resolving it are mostly local or regional, the focus of this research project is on case studies. Individually, the case studies identify specific issues and water institutions; collectively, they provide information on the causes of problems and offer prospects for resolving the water conflict. The proposed IWRIS is necessarily limited to general guidelines because it is not possible to consider the cultural diversity of Indian tribes and their right to self-determination.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, American Indian water use, American Indian water rights, tribal water, economics, Indian Water Rights Impact Statement, IWRIS., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Economics, decision-making, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, economic research, American Indians, native americans, Indian water rights, tribal claims, econometric analysis

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1996
  • 1997
  • Final