Shrinking water resources across the world will mean that its supply may resemble the market for oil and minerals, according to water experts at the University of Leicester.
The world’s water reserves will increasingly fail to meet the population’s needs over the coming decades, leaving a third of the global population without adequate drinking water by 2025, according to experts Georgios Patsiaouras, Michael Saren and James Fitchett.
Patsiaouras argues in a new research paper that increased competition for water from both the public and from industry will make it likely that a privatised, market-based water system will develop, controlled by private companies.
He predicts that nations will begin to sell water sources — such as lakes, rivers and groundwater reserves — to companies.
This will mean the supply of water around the world will soon resemble the market for oil and minerals, a university release said.
Patsiaouras continued, “Increased competition for access to clean water will create a global marketplace... There will be an increase in phenomena such as water transfer, water banking and mega-engineering desalination plants emerging as alternative and competing means of managing water supply.”
This new water economy will only work in the favour of countries and communities that can afford to bid the highest amounts for water — while poorer and drought-stricken countries might see water supplies becoming even more scarce, Patsiaouras warns.
To avoid this, he argues that control over water should be localised, with communities taking control over lakes and water sources in their area, giving priority to public health over profit.
“Although majority of governments around the world have chosen hybrid water delivery models — where water supplies are controlled by both the state and private companies — the role and importance of culture and community in sustainable market development has been under-examined,” Patsiaouras added.