Philip Womble is an attorney and a PhD Candidate in the Stanford Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER) specializing in water policy and water markets. He received his JD from Stanford Law School in 2016. Philip's research couples his formal training in hydrology and law with insights and tools from economics, ecology, and operations research to study how states in the western U.S. can more efficiently allocate water while also protecting the environment.
One part of Philip’s dissertation studies how legal changes and alternative acquisition strategies can make water markets more effective tools for managing water scarcity in the western U.S. Drought, climate change, and population growth stress western U.S. water supplies. Water markets enable adaptation by facilitating water transfers between users in times of scarcity. Prior appropriation water law, the dominant water law regime in the western U.S., establishes private property rights in water that are increasingly traded. But water markets are heavily regulated, and legal and institutional restrictions have hindered market development in much of the West. In order to comply with these restrictions, parties to water transfers often hire attorneys and engineers. These and other non-water transaction costs can be quite substantial and often deter buyers and sellers from trading.
Philip’s work seeks to understand how to reduce these non-water transaction costs while protecting existing water rights. Accordingly, Philip’s research will apply ACBC or CBC to understand 1) factors that drive these non-water transaction costs (e.g., characteristics of water rights and water markets); and 2) how prospective legal changes might alter transaction costs. Philip will present repeat players in Colorado’s water market—water attorneys and engineers—with choice scenarios that vary potential causes of transaction costs. Because this choice experiment will quantify different attributes’ influence on transaction costs, Philip’s work will reveal how specific changes to water law could enable more efficient water management in the western U.S.
For more information, here is a link to Philips' Stanford School of Earth Sciences page: https://earth.stanford.edu/philip-womble. You can learn more about Philip's dissertation research here: https://earth.stanford.edu/hydro/optimizing-conservation-planning-and-law-environmental-water-marketing-western-colorado.