Social choice and groundwater management: application of the uniform rule
Y. Martinez, and E. Esteban. 2014. Social choice and groundwater management: application of the uniform rule. Cien. Inv. Agr. 41(2): 153-162. In recent decades, the protection of groundwater resources has become a key element in environmental policies around the world as the control of groundwater extraction is necessary to avoid groundwater depletion. This paper proposes a system to improve the allocation of groundwater resources based on the theory of social choice. We propose the implementation of the uniform rule as a mechanism to achieve more efficient groundwater allocation. The uniform rule combines individual preferences to reach collective decisions and respects the anonymity between agents. Additionally, the rule is Pareto efficient and strategy-proof. The paper compares the results obtained under the uniform rule with results achieved under other allocation rules: the proportional rule and the market rule. A numerical application is developed for the Western La Mancha aquifer (Spain), where intensive irrigated agriculture in recent decades has created serious overexploitation problems. The results highlight how the uniform rule is able to substantially improve the efficiency of groundwater extraction.