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Golden RulesThe Origins of California Water Law in the Gold Rush$
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Mark Kanazawa

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226258676

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226258706.001.0001

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(p.265) Chapter Ten Conclusions
Golden Rules

Mark Kanazawa

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 10 summarizes the argument and conclusions, and discusses several important implications of the Gold Rush experience for present-day water policy. One is that appropriative law may well provide a viable set of institutions for supporting transfers of water rights to higher-value uses, especially because of the tenure security it provides to right-holders. The key for any set of institutions in effectively supporting water transfers is the ability to address third-party impacts, which mining camps and courts were able to address reasonably well through systematic treatment of situations with different levels of transaction costs, including measurement costs. Under modern conditions, the questions are: what are the (expanded) sources of transaction costs and how can transaction costs be minimized? Careful consideration should be given to the appropriate locus of rule-making – not only courts, legislatures, and water management agencies, but also local entities that may be able to effectively manage common-property resources, as the mining camps attempted to do.

Keywords:   appropriative law, third-party impacts, transaction costs, locus of rule-making

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