Water is one of the most precious commodities on Earth, without it we die, it’s as simple as that. California is once again in drought. Farm workers are laid off, fields lie fallow and there are worries about the food supply as California provides much of the fruit and veg eaten by Americans.
Throughout California’s desperately dry interior, those with water to spare are cashing in.
As a third dry summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, three water districts in the state’s agricultural heartland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private, underground caches.
Records show nearly 40 others also are seeking to sell their surplus water this year.
Economists say it’s been decades since the water market has been this hot. In the last five years alone, the price has grown tenfold, shooting to as much as $2,200 an acre-foot — enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.
In California, the sellers include those who hold claims on water that date back a century, private firms who are extracting groundwater and landowners who stored water when it was plentiful in underground caverns known as water banks.
But some water economists say California needs to do more to regulate the water market to keep aquifers from being depleted from short-term sales.
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