“Our” water resources are allegedly dwindling. The CEO of Coca-Cola wants us to take positive steps to fix this problem:
“Businesses, governments, NGOs and civil society must come together and make the tough decisions and investments that will ensure plenty of water for all. This means protecting and caring for water sources as never before. It means improving existing water infrastructure and creating infrastructure where it doesn’t exist. It means making tough decisions on the best use of available water.”
This is impossible. Neither businesses, governments, NGOs, or “civil society” (what is “civil society” as opposed to the other groups that are mentioned?) have the power to know or predict the best use of water.
Water needs to be distributed by the market, not by some kind of universal consensus—assuming such a consensus could ever be discovered. Think about it. How can any committee or group know your water needs? How can you know when you are using up too much water, or using too little.
Obviously, water resources need to be privately owned so that the owners can rationally allocate water where it is most needed. Lakes, springs, wells that reach a section of the water table in the area, rain catchment systems, and even desalinization plants on the coast, can all be sources that sell water to various customers. Those places that need the water most will be motivated to forego other purchases in order to gain water. Those places that don’t need the water will be the ones who spend their money on other goods beside water. In a free market system, water will be allocated where it is needed most. Also, no one will need to be preached at to conserve water. As people pay for water through a private market and pricing system, they will naturally practice water conservation.
As Economist Floy Lilley has written
“Markets might capture and divert floodwaters to Nevada. But that cost would be tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Markets might create new businesses selling catchments and cisterns wherever rain does fall. Markets might result in desalination plants springing up along the coasts… Markets might spawn a whole industry of micromonitors on water usage to pinpoint needed repair of the multitudinous leaks in distribution pipelines. Monitoring could become so respected that instead of seeing water flow through a pipeline, users begin to see dollars flowing.”
Think about what happens when “too many” people are using water. We are suddenly told to stop consuming. Would that ever happen to Coca-Cola’s Daisani line of bottled water? Is there any market commodity where people get mad when you want too much? Don’t most private businesses consider it a blessing to find there is mass demand for their product?
That is how it should be. That is what happens in a market where people strive to meet one another’s needs.
Creating a water market may be tricky, but it is at least an approach that can work. Calling for more socialism to improve on past water socialism is not going to help.