The water market is faced with many challenges. One of these challenges is what I call the “regulatory bottleneck.” In terms of the water market, this bottleneck restricts the flow of applications (claims, new appropriations, permits, changes, etc.) through the respective water agency’s administrative process.
Take for example Washington. The current restricted flow is:
1. 5,700+ pending new applications
2. 1,200+ pending water right changes
Furthermore, budget cuts have reduced staff time by 25% and made the bottleneck even smaller. The state estimates it now reviews 370 applications a year due to the budget cuts. According to my math (6,900 applications/370 applications a year), it will take 18.6 years just to finish the existing applications. Even before the cuts, it still would have taken 13.8 years to get through the pending applications.
Remember, this does not include the new applications! This is not good for the water market.
The purpose of this post is not to point fingers at the state agencies. I believe they are doing the best they can with the resources provided. The objective here is to recognize the challenges we face in the water market, so we can provide innovative solutions to these opportunities.