Why Water Markets Might Work In California

April 18, 2015 11:30 AM

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California is struggling to divide up and conserve a precious resource - water. Recently, Governor Jerry Brown ordered cities and towns across the state to cut water use by 25 percent. That is one way to do it. Other countries that have endured severe droughts have tried another approach - water markets. In 2007, in the midst of a year's-long drought in Australia, the country expanded water rights trading. Farmers were given allocations of water, in addition to the water they're entitled to, and they could then buy and sell that extra water. So would this system work in California? Is it even a good idea? McKenzie Funk is a journalist and the author of the book "Windfall: The Booming Business Of Global Warming." He joins us from the studios of KUOW in Seattle. Welcome.

FUNK: It's a city at the bottom of the Murray-Darling River that was fixing the biggest drought. They described it as a stock market for water. You could buy and trade; you could register the shares of water you wanted to trade up the system, and a computer would do it for you with the help of broke...

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