Worried about droughts? Embrace water markets


In the last few years, California experienced a long, severe drought. It was extremely  painful, but not as painful as it might have been because California has water markets that helped the water flow to those who needed it most. Strengthening and expanding water markets could have furthered reduced this pain.

Courtesy of Jose Manuel Suarez

Yet in Water Deeply, environmental activist Gary Wockner bemoans that so many environmentalists are embracing markets to resolve environmental conflicts. His critique says more about the growing schisms between environmentalists than the merits of water markets.

Wockner offers three criticisms of water markets: (1) they commoditize water; (2) he hasn’t seen a quantified analysis of whether they are successful, under a test that he has devised but does not articulate; and (3) they, along with other free market environmental reforms, are pushing environmentalists away from his preferred model of lobbying and litigation (political…

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