Water shortages are primarily due to mismanagement of water resources. And mismanagement, especially in agriculture, is largely the fault of centralised control by government officials. Water is often underpriced, leading to wastage and poor conservation. Even on the rare occasions when government planners have priced water to near-efficient levels they have been incapable of tracking changing demand, leaving hundreds of millions of people without access to clean water.
There are typically no financial or political incentives for governments or other providers to introduce supplies for the poor nor are there incentives to reduce wasteful usage by powerful political interests. Conventional public goods arguments have inadvertently provided a rationale for governments to manipulate this resource, which it typically has a monopoly over, for its own political ends.
Roger Bate argues that water markets in which individuals (or corporations and municipalities) trade their entitlements to water, introduce flexibility, reduce waste, allow fairer distribution, more rational development of new resources, and therefore smaller environmental impacts.
Table of Contents
All the Water in the World
The Problem of Supply
Towards Better Water Trading Schemes
Assessment of Markets