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Markets, Mechanisms, Institutions, and the Future of Water

February 2001

Citation: ELR 10237

Author: David W. Yoskowitz

Water scarcity is no longer a threat, it is a reality. Increasing populations throughout the country and the world are putting increased pressure on existing supplies of freshwater. Cities, states, and regions are scrambling to find solutions to this burgeoning problem. The impact of drought, which has been felt not only in the typically dry Southwest, but also in the humid Southeast this past summer, compounds the problem. So what mechanisms evolve to help alleviate the problem?

Advances and uses of technology are one means. Desalinization and reverse osmosis processes are becoming relatively cheaper, making their adoption a reality in the near future. This assumes, however, that the user of the technology is near a source of treatable water. Another use of this technology is to treat used water. But this method would have to overcome the stigma attached to it. A number of other possibilities exist, but this Dialogue will focus on one in particular: Water marketing.