Presented in partnership with ProPublica and Discovery
In 2007, Atlanta came within 90 days of running out of water. This past January, Flint, Michigan declared a state of emergency, and the current drought in California is the worst in 1,200 years.
Most Americans assumes that water scarcity is a problem limited to developing countries; that our water is cheap, clean, and in plentiful supply. Yet this essential resource – used lavishly and delivered virtually for free – is increasingly scarce. Experts are now wondering whether the most severe shortages have been caused not by weather or consumer choices but by poor policy planning. If we engineered our way into this crisis, can new solutions engineer us back out?
The suggestions are vast: recycling incentives; citywide mandates on lawn watering; and towing and melting icebergs. But at the center of a recent ProPublica investigation by Abrahm Lustgarten is another solution: water markets. According to Lustgarten’s reporting, which serves as the basis for the Discovery documentary, Killing the Colorado, a growing consensus of experts argue that if water is valued properly, then bought, sold, and traded, waste would be discouraged and water supply would more effectively shift to where it’s needed most. Skeptics aren’t so convinced – they say privatizing what is widely understood as a public good is shortsighted and detrimental to our right to its access.
Join New America, ProPublica, and Discovery for a discussion on the commodification of water and what’s at stake for a secure water supply, secure economy, and secure environment.
Abrahm Lustgarten @AbrahmL
Senior reporter, ProPublica
Disque D. Deane, Jr. @InvestWater
Chief Investment Officer and Co-founder, Water Assets Management
Director, Columbia Water Center, and Senior Research Scientist, International Research Institute for Climate & Society, Columbia University
Cannon Michael @agleader
President, Bowles Farming Company
Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
Hon. Sharon Burke @burkese
Senior Advisor, Resource Security Program, New America