Option Contracting in the California Water Market
Temporary water transfers, as achievable under option contracts, capture gains from trade that would go unrealized if only permanent transfers of water rights were possible. This paper develops a bilateral option contracting model for water which includes the possibility of conveyance losses and random delivery. Seller-optimal and socially optimal option contracts are characterized in terms of relevant base and strike prices, as well as contract volumes, from an ex-ante and an ex-post point of view. Lastly, welfare gains are estimated, and actual contract prices in California are compared to model-predicted prices.