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How much is water worth in the US ?

October 17th, 2003

This NYT story shows the similarity between Australia’s water problems and those of the Western US. There as here, rights originally allocated to irrigators for little or nothing are being bought back at substantially higher values.

The San Diego district will pay market prices for the water, or about $258 per acre-foot at the outset. The farmers typically pay only delivery fees for their water, which amount to $15 or $20 per acre-foot.

If my arithmetic is correct, the market price quoted here is about $A300/ML while the farm delivery price is around $A20/ML. An acre-foot (enough to put a foot of water on an acre of land) is about 1.2 ML (a megalitre enough to put 10cm of water on a hectare of land) and in purchasing-power-parity terms, an Australian dollar is worth about $US0.70 which, coincidentally, is close to the current market exchange rate.

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  1. mark erickson
    October 24th, 2003 at 00:47 | #1

    You’d have to poke around the web, or perhaps contact this agency,http://www.cglg.org, but in one case the cost of water in the U.S. is “dirt cheap.” To explain, the state of Michigan gave (not literally, but the cost was reportedly $100) Evian the right to extract and bottle a massive amount of water that flowed into Lake Michigan from an aquifer.

    Of course, there are efforts to privatize water.

    Finally, access to Iraqi water sources for the benefit of Israel may be an ulterior motive for the US’ Iraqi foray.

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