US lawmakers push for legislation to halt water trading amid scarcity concerns

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna aim to prevent water trading to protect essential resources, citing concerns over speculation and profit-making in water-scarce regions.

Maanvi Singh reports for The Guardian.


In short:

  • The proposed bill seeks to block private investors, including hedge funds, from trading water rights, particularly in California where water futures trading is practiced.
  • This legislative effort, named the Future of Water Act, follows reports of increasing corporate acquisitions of water rights in the western U.S., raising alarms about potential profiteering.
  • Environmental groups and a U.N. expert have criticized water futures markets, warning they could lead to water commodification and affect real water availability.

Key quote:

"Water is not a commodity for the rich and powerful to profit off of."

— Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator

Why this matters:

There's a concern that market-driven water trading undermines sustainable water management practices. Profit motives may override conservation efforts, leading to unsustainable water use patterns.

Climate change is exacerbating water scarcity. One example: Climate disruption is resulting in diminishing winter snowpacks and rapid spring runoff, thereby depriving farmers of this valuable asset, and for much of the world, there are no known substitutes.

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