Author Archives: Rodney T. Smith

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

COVID-19 Will Change the Water Industry, a Trilogy: Enhanced Role for Improved Science

Look at the skies.  Are you enjoying the best air quality of your life?  Hydrowonk is.

COVID-19 is a natural experiment of the impact of economic activity on the environment.  Will the water industry take advantage of this generational opportunity?  If so, how?

It is time to abandon how science is used in the water industry today and embrace science using 21st century technology.  By integrating improved science into regulatory structures, our industry can improve the management of water resources and the environment.

Continue reading

COVID-19 Will Change the Water Industry, a Trilogy: The Industry’s Economic Model Is Dead

The COVID-19 pandemic is (hopefully) once in a lifetime disrupter of our lives.  The public health establishment has been shattered and is being rebuilt on the fly.  The economy is in shambles.  We are learning about supply chains and interconnectedness of economic activity.  Who is immune?  No one.

Hydrowonk’s COVID-19 trilogy shares reflections on the pandemic’s implications for the water industry’s historic economic model, the role of science, and planning.  I confess that very few of these ideas were constantly on my mind until recently, although some were simmering.

Continue reading

Salton Sea’s Demise Accelerates in the Face of State Inaction

“The Salton Sea is a disaster in the making.  California isn’t doing anything about it,” states a Los Angeles Times Editorial.  The announcement of California’s 10-Year Plan was made with great fanfare in 2017.  Two years later, one-fifth into the 10-year plan, planned projects have not started.  Nothing has happened.  The environmental and public health tab from continued inaction compounds.

The long-term, sustained decline of the Salton Sea is a conundrum. Under the terms of the historic long-term water conservation and transfer agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority, the impact of the transfer through 2017 was fully mitigated.  As I reported in my earlier blog post, no one in the Salton Sea crowd has an explanation for the precipitous decline in the elevation of the Salton Sea.

Continue reading

Appellate Court Wheeling Decision Puts More Pressure on Northern California Water Supplies

Last June, the Court of Appeal of the First Appellate District issued an opinion addressing the long-standing dispute between the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the San Diego County Water Authority regarding lawful wheeling rates for water conveyed to San Diego through Metropolitan’s Colorado River Aqueduct and local distribution system. Reversing a superior court decision, the Appellate Court held that Metropolitan’s inclusion of State Water Project costs in its calculation of wheeling rates was lawful. Putting aside legal debate, Hydrowonk focuses on the economic consequences of the decision.

Continue reading