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Water sharing agreements sustainable to reduced flows

Journal article
Authors Stefan Ambec
A. Dinar
D. McKinney
Published in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
Volume 66
Issue 3
Pages 639-655
ISSN 0095-0696
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Economics, Environmental Economics Unit
Pages 639-655
Language en
Keywords Aral sea, Core, International river treaty, Self-enforcement, Stability, Water, Marginal contribution, Mirror images, River water, Water flows, Water release, Convergence of numerical methods, Flow of water, Hydraulics, Water resources, Rivers, drought, environmental economics, riparian zone, sustainable development, vulnerability, water economics, water flow, Equus asinus
Subject categories Environmental Sciences, Area economics


By signing a water sharing agreement (WSA), countries agree to release an amount of river water in exchange for a negotiated compensation. We examine the vulnerability of such agreements to reduced water flows. Among all WSAs that are acceptable to riparian countries, we find out the one which is self-enforced under the most severe drought scenarios. The so-called upstream incremental WSA assigns to each country its marginal contribution to its followers in the river. Its mirror image, the downstream incremental WSA, is not sustainable to reduced flow at the source. Self-enforcement problems can be solved by setting water releases and compensations contingent to water flow. We apply our analysis to the Aral Sea Basin. We compute the upstream incremental compensations for the Bishkek agreement and asses its vulnerability with historical flows. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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