Back to Sustainability  |  More Profiles
Explore More: Read Online Brochure

Ariel Dinar

Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy

Ariel Dinar
Water Policy
California has a complex, highly interconnected, and decentralized water system. And, California’s water sector faces many demands—in fact, abundant water sources have already dried up. That’s why Professor Dinar is working with other scientists, policymakers and government leaders to address water scarcity and water quality challenges and to help California maximize its sustainable water management strategies.

Areas of Expertise

Select Honors and Distinctions

  • Water Resources Research (Editorial Board, 2002-04)
  • International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics (Editorial Board, 2006-present)
  • Acta Oeconomica Pragensia (Editorial Board, 2007-present)
  • Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the U.S. Department of States. Fulbright Senior Specialists Program, Washington, D.C. (2003)

Latest Research


Q: Why is your work important?
My research consists of a combination of technical and policy work, which according to my philosophy have to be tied, if one seeks to have an impact. I work mainly on the interaction between behavioral responses of individuals to regulations and policy interventions in the water sector. My work covers interactions between individuals, agency, and state, attempting to optimize the use of scarce water resources and to maximize societal welfare while addressing equity. Because water spans over more than just its immediate uses, understanding the direct and indirect consequences of its use is useful to society.

Q: What is the ultimate goal of your research? What challenges are left to achieve?
The ultimate goal of my research is to better understand the tradeoff between various policy interventions and which societal objectives could be achieved at the expense of others. In the field of water economics, we are just now starting to understand the relationships between the different water consuming sectors, and the direct and indirect effects of various water and non-water policies on the entire economy. However, understanding economy-wide effects of water scarcity and policies to address it are still a challenge left to be achieved.
Q: Can you describe some of California’s water problems and myths?
California has a complex, highly interconnected, and decentralized water system. California water sector faces many demands on the one hand and changing conditions (population growth, climate change, and change in preferences) on the other hand. Both place hardships on the management of the water system. Although local operations draw on considerable expertise and analysis, broad public policy and planning, among the most advanced in the world, opinions about water often involve a variety of myths about how the system works and the options available for improving its performance. A common myth is that California is running out of water, which is not true as California has run out of abundant water and will need to adapt to increasing water scarcity. Another common myth is that California’s water rights laws impede reform and sustainable water management. The truth is that the legal tools for reform are already present in California’s water rights laws; we just need to start using them.

Q: “What are some “out of the box” approaches to drought and mitigation that the California should consider?”
Not enough attention has been placed on trying to reduce future impacts resulting from droughts by improving drought risk management. The approach, consisting on monitoring, planning and mitigation strategies requires a new paradigm on how to prepare for future droughts. Drought risk management is proactive and directed at identifying who and what is at risk, why and how individuals and agencies respond to drought events. Drought plans can be adopted, and mitigation strategies and programs can be identified, in those sectors, population groups or geographic regions at risk.

Q: What does “Living the Promise” mean to you?
“Living the promise” to me means to be as relevant as possible in teaching, conducting research, and outreaching the community.

Q: In your spare time, what are you reading?
I read the Economist, which gives me a broad view of socio-economic and political aspects from around the world. I also have books in Hebrew to re-connect me to the culture I left behind when I moved to the USA.