Water Becomes a Global Commodity

Posted on Friday, January 14th, 02011 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska

Newsweek reports that Sitka, Alaska is looking at selling 3 billion of gallons of water for bottling in Mumbai India shipped via tanker.  This will mark one of the first major water transfers of this sort, making water a globally traded commodity.  It also brings up some interesting questions around climate change and how it will affect population centers.  It is said that water always travels uphill towards money, if this deal goes through we will determine if it will also cross oceans.

Mumbai, India

  • How long until we see it traded on the market? Gold, oil, livestock futures, now water….

  • Surely it's much more sustainable to spread out the people from over-populated areas into the near deserted but fertile ones, just like Alaska…

    Rather than bringing Alaskan water into India, it would be much better to bring about half of the Indians into Alaska?

  • When the transfer of a vital commodity from one country to another is blocked, (Natural Gas: Russia > Ukraine) economic chaos can result. What about when the commodity (water) is required to sustain life itself? What do you charge? What if they can't pay? What if you shut off the supply? What if people in that country start dying? What if that country has nuclear weapons?

  • Watch the Documentary “Tapped” to get a little more info on the water biz. It got me to swear off bottled water (except for fizzy water… and emergency backups).

  • My ow my, never knew this until I've read your post. Why would they import for they can dig a deep-well and filter it for the community to drink and use.

  • Interesting that they show Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell as being below normal. Both of these “lakes” could easily be brought back to full by reducing the flow through the generating stations. Lake Powell has only been full once, in the mid-1980s (a very wet period for the southwest), and Lake Mead only a few times as well. And it is more than just power generation: Over the past few years the Bureau of Reclamation has been releasing more water than in years past to help the ecosystem of the river. Reducing flow just to “top off” the lakes isn't a good idea for a bunch of reasons. And remember, the past several years the Colorado snowpack has been above normal.

  • Ienvan

    Some Powers won't be happy until they have privatized air.

  • gcphoto

    don't do it!!! exporting equals eventual desert.

  • Larry Vertal

    Respectfully, I would suggest the issues related to water will demand better intellectual rigor than much of what we are seeing so far. Already we can see such statements flying around as 'Water is the new Carbon!! ' Water presents several unique challenges: (1) It is not actually “used,” but simply “borrowed” (water is used and discharged returning it to the hydrologic cycle for potential reuse) (2) Discharge is as critical as extraction (location, quality, temperature, etc.). Additionally, analysis must include factors such as both direct usage and secondary usage and factors related to water, extraction, delivery, processing, treating (pre/post use). Without trying to be inflammatory, should we not posit that this issue like so many other current planetary issues has at its core the driver of unchecked human breeding?

  • love the idea. i always read your post.

  • Your summary & pictures are misleading – according to the Newsweek article you link to the water is being shipped to a bottling plant in Mumbai from whence it will be marketed in the middle east as Alaska Spring bottled water. I'm not saying a water crisis isn't imminent, but this is a commercial deal, no more. If you must rage, rage against bottled water, that's an abomination like smoking a pack a day while fighting lung cancer.

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