Next up for eBay: water rights?

This page in:

Okay, maybe not quite yet. But in an article on TCS Daily, AEI's Roger Bate argues that trading water rights would be much more effective than the bureaucracies who now decide who gets water and at what price.

The main water allocation problem is the result of Soviet-style management over agricultural water. In most places around the globe, governments decide who gets how much water, when they can use it and often what for, and if they don't use their allocation (regardless of how they use it) they will lose it. Once governmental allocations are made, officials rarely reallocate, even when massive changes in agriculture, industry, mining, domestic and rural demand occur. The result is politically favored allocation and grotesque situations where farmers often pay 100 times less than other types of users, and the poorest in slums often pay 10 times what rich domestic consumers pay, and for unsafe water.

Bate suggests that India and China could learn a lot from Australia’s rights trading system, in which users can trade water access and distribution along Australia’s Murray Darling Basin by going online. Impressive. He also alludes to benefits gained by both farms and the poor in Chile and South Africa as a result of trading water rights.

I look forward to his book out August 14, All the Water in the World. I’d like to see some clarification of how the poor’s needs are safeguarded, as some form of subsidy will inevitably be necessary to meet their daily water requirements. In an auction between farmers and golf course owners on the one hand and city slum-dwellers on the other, it’s obvious that the poor can be outbid pretty easily.

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000