As aquifers dry out — thanks, climate change — investors are betting water rights will be more than a liquid asset.
In Washington state, a Wall Street-backed firm called Crown Columbia Water Resources is looking to change the water rights game… but some worry this business model will leave locals high and dry.
Fight for your right to water
Water rights are a landowner’s claim to water access from adjacent rivers, streams, or groundwater sources.
Since 2017, Crown Columbia has been snapping up smaller farms — not for the ag activity but for the water rights that come with them. So far the firm has dropped at least $4.7m in several rural counties.
Crown Columbia says its plan is to streamline the existing water redistribution system, making it easier to sell water to everyone from parched metro areas to major farming operations.
But plenty of people aren’t convinced
Some farmers and ranchers are worried that the profit motive inherent in selling water will threaten their livelihoods. This could, in turn, affect the rest of the country, as Washington is known for high-value produce like apples, cherries, and wine grapes.
Others take umbrage with private interests taking control of what has historically been a public resource.