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.
Philip's dissertation research studies environmental water rights trading in the Colorado River Basin. Because water rights in the western United States historically existed only for diversionary uses, and not instream flows, the entire flow of many rivers in this region has been claimed for offstream uses. With instream flows left out of the equation, major waterways routinely run dry, or virtually dry, during substantial portions of the year. Accordingly, Philip uses quantitative systems modeling to analyze how specific reforms to water law and improved planning strategies for environmental buyers in the water rights market improve adaptation to drought, dry climate change, and growing demands from population growth.
Before graduate school, Philip's work analyzed and informed law, policy, and watershed planning in the most established market for freshwater ecosystem services in the United States – wetland and stream compensatory mitigation under Clean Water Act § 404. He worked on this wetland and stream market as a Research Associate at the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) in Washington, DC and as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill. Philip's work experience also includes time at a private water law firm in Denver, Colorado and The Nature Conservancy. Philip holds a BS in Environmental Sciences from UNC-Chapel Hill.
More information on Philip's current research is available here: https://earth.stanford.edu/hydro/optimizing-conservation-planning-and-law-environmental-water-marketing-western-colorado.
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Philip studies legal and water supply planning strategies that use water markets to help communities and ecosystems adapt to drought and climate change.