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How the Financialization of Water Threatens Water Security

July 07, 2023 0 Comments

drawing water out of a well

What happens to our water security when – just like oil – it’s treated as “blue gold?”

That’s exactly what’s happening on a global scale. And the consequences put you and your family at risk of having access to water.

What we’re seeing is the financialization of water, with big corporations and individuals like Bill Gates acquiring massive acres of land where water is found in order to sell it.

The UN says water is a universal right.

The United Nations General Assembly “recognizes the right of every human being to have access to enough water for personal and domestic uses, meaning between 50 and 100 liters of water per person per day.”

However, the big money makers (and government officials) object.

According to Eko, “At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestlé led the way in fighting against defining access to water as a universal right. Nestlé and other big corporations won out, and government officials around the globe officially downgraded water’s classification to a ‘need’ instead, meaning it could be captured, commoditized, and exploited by major corporations without regard for local populations.”

The financialization of water will have serious consequences and is a threat to my – and your – future water security. 

Read on to learn more about the ongoing battle over water.

Financializing Water

The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live with dire water shortages and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under stressed water conditions.

Clean water will be desperately sought.

Ideas4Development reports, “By 2030, the global demand for freshwater is expected to increase 50%, leading to a 40% shortfall in freshwater resources.”

As demand rises, so will the financialization of water.

Financialization of water is a relatively new concept – one with dire consequences.

It’s not surprising that the World Bank has been instrumental in facilitating buying up of water sources and water rights. It started in 1978 when they loaned to undeveloped countries contingent upon the privatization of public services.

In 2020, the world's leading commodity exchange, the Chicago Stock Exchange, “opened its derivatives markets, the most speculative of all, to commercial transactions on water (‘water futures’). With this decision, the financial markets could extend their control and domination beyond corporate water operators to water itself.

Speculating on water futures means the price on water becomes a financial asset.

Today, there are numerous publicly traded investment funds specializing in water.

Investment companies such as Vanguard and BlackRock control water and water-related activities around the globe.

If you think it’s not happening in America, think again.

According to AZ Central, “Two other water-focused investment companies, Water Asset Management and Vidler Water Company, own agricultural lands totaling about 8,642 acres in several areas of the state [Arizona]. These same companies have bought land and water rights in places across the West, amassing a growing list of investments in Colorado, Nevada, California, New Mexico and Idaho.” 

But it’s not just water-focused investment companies buying up water and water rights.

Companies like Nestlé are buying up as much of the world’s water as they can.


Allow the former CEO of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe to explain it himself: “One perspective held by various NGOs – which I would call extreme – is that water should be declared a human right. [...] The other view is that water is a grocery product. And just as every other product, it should have a market value.”

Water financialization is all about making more money. 

Wealthy corporations buy up huge swaths of water-rich land in order to sell water.

For example, in 2022, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Bill Gates-owned company battled to buy 22,500 acres of ranchland and its associated water rights.

Governing reports, “A 2018 deal showed the tremendous speculative value of land/water deals in the Columbia River Basin. That’s when Gates’ 100C LLC paid $171 million for 14,500 acres of land (10,500 acres of it irrigated farmland) from the Boston-based John Hancock Life Insurance Company, which had paid $75 million for the parcel in 2010.”

Then there are the recent headlines:

  • New York investors snapping up Colorado River water rights, betting big on an increasingly scarce resource
  • Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado’s Water
  • Aurora poised to acquire farmland, water rights near Greeley
  • Fast-growing Buckeye's land, water rights deal still not enough to quench need
  • California lawmakers mull buying out farmers to save water

The Consequences of Water Financialization

When companies come into rural areas and farmlands to buy water rights, this puts these communities and their remaining water sources in jeopardy.

“With less underground water to buoy it, the land surface is sinking as much as a foot a year in spots, causing roads to buckle and bridges to crack” say contributors to an article headlined “The Parched West.”

Springs that were once overflowing are now barely trickling.

Creeks are dry.

Underground water sources have been damaged beyond comparison due to excessive pumping.

In countries like Pakistan, the water levels have sunk so low due to water sourcing for these companies that they can’t access clean water themselves.

Eko states, “Nestlé is draining developing countries’ groundwater to make its Pure Life bottled water, destroying countries’ natural resources before forcing its people to buy their own water back. Now Nestlé is moving into Pakistan and sucking up the local water supply, rendering entire areas uninhabitable in order to sell mineral-enriched water to the upper class as well as people in the US and EU. Meanwhile the poor watch their wells run dry and their children fall ill from dirty water.”

Nestlé “extracts up to 3.6m liters of water daily from Six Nations treaty land in Canada. Meanwhile, local indigenous people live without clean running water. They must buy water in plastic containers.”

Corporations offer good money to impoverished communities in exchange for water rights. They siphon the water, bottle it to sell, and then force people to pay a premium for drinking water on their own land.

This doesn’t just happen in developing nations or to indigenous populations.

American farmers are also significantly threatened.

In Arizona, investors are buying up rural farmland to sell water to urban homebuilders.

The farm community is worried these deals will end up drying up farming towns…literally.

One citizen commented, “We have the right to develop as well, and not to rape us of our water so the metropolitan areas can prosper. It's not fair. […] It sets a bad precedent. I think it's opening Pandora's box and it's a very dangerous policy.”

3.1 billion gallons of water are pumped out and bottled in drought-stricken California each year.

In 2018, Nestlé withdrew 1.153 million gallons from the Santa Fe river in Florida to sell back to the public as bottled water.

What you may not realize is that Nestlé sells several different brands of water, including…

  • Arrowhead
  • Poland Spring
  • Deer Park
  • Ozarka
  • Zephyrhills
  • Acqua Panna
  • San Pellegrino
  • Perrier
  • Vittel
  • Buxton

These brands come from natural water sources.

As a result, the water tables are dropping, and it will take years upon years for these water sources to be replenished.

Side Note: Bottled water isn’t as clean and safe as you think it is. Check out Water Filters Vs. Bottled Water: Which Is Best?

Water Security Is Critical

We can no longer accept that we will always have access to clean, safe, and affordable water.

Now is the time to invest in water filtration tools, such as the Alexapure Pro Water Filtration System, so your household can enjoy filtered tap water without having to rely on bottled water.

Don’t forget to buy a water filtration bottle to use regularly when you are on the go.

Water is precious, friends. Don’t find yourself without it.

In liberty,

Elizabeth Anderson

Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply

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