What Can Colorado River Senior Water Right Users Learn from the NLF Players Union?

Hydrowonk attended the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas, catching up with clients at Thursday’s Percolation and Runoff reception.  Running with senior water right users, Hydrowonk heard many complaints about this year’s panels barely mentioning the priority system.  One wise observer noted that “this was a meeting of the Colorado River (Junior) Water Users Association.”

A former NLF player turned senior water right user shared his experience as a member of the NFL union.  A major function of the NFL players union is to periodically negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with NFL owners.  While some but not all NFL players are millionaires, NFL owners are billionaires.

How does the players union level the playing field?  By building a war chest.  A portion of the players’ dues is placed into an account to build up the financial resources to support the negotiation of the next collective bargaining agreement.

The size of the fund is determined by the union’s executive committee.  Given the union’s experience from earlier negotiations, they set the target for the fund with a contingency.  With adequate resources to represent their union members, union leadership negotiates the collective bargaining agreement.  Historically, union leadership has not spent the entire fund.  Unused funds are rebated to the players who contributed to the fund.

Has the time come to form an association of users of senior water rights, including Present Perfected Rights due to the crisis on the Colorado River?  Beats Hydrowonk.

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About Rodney T. Smith

Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D., President of Stratecon Inc.—an economics and strategic planning consulting firm—advises public and private sector water users on the acquisition, sale and leasing of water rights and water supplies in the western U.S. He is routinely involved in economic valuation of water rights, water investments, and negotiation of water acquisition and transportation agreements and has served as an expert witness in the economic valuation of groundwater resources, disputes over the economic interpretation of water contracts, economics of water conservation and water use practices, and the socio-economic impacts of land fallowing. For more information, see www.stratwater.com.