This paper is the first in a planned series that seeks to synthesize and describe many of the economic questions that arise when attempting to develop groundwater and surface water management policy in Louisiana. In this series, current economic perspectives on water policy will be drawn from the technical and policy literature, with particular emphasis placed on the challenge of coordinating tradeoffs among different water users. While these reports will not attempt an exhaustive review of the broad water management literature, a comprehensive discussion of economic-based water management is a primary goal. In addition, the series will try to avoid focusing on a specific policy approach, but instead detail the issues and policy options that are often confronted when managing water resources. This information should help to frame water management issues within a broader resource-economics context and provide a basis for the development of enlightened management policy.