Utterly fascinating. And kind of infuriating.
Most of America's produce comes from California. And food needs water to grow.
From strawberries, almonds, and avocados, to staples like lettuce and tomatoes, California is the source of what most of America eats every day. So, when you hear about the drought in California, it has implications that reach much further.
The drought in California is the worst in 1,200 years.
Just to make that fact feel a little more real, there hasn't been a worse drought since the year 815. The only people around in this country were Native Americans. And they weren't doing anything shady to the water, were they?
But, theoretically speaking, what if you wanted to buy some of your own water to prepare for the future of this drought?
Fact: A person or corporation can own the rights to water — and a lot of people in the western U.S. do. Then, they lease the water to farmers and/or the government. And then there are water brokers who go and buy water rights from landowners, which means that they can then lease out water that flows through other people's land.
Welcome to the "water market."
Weird, right? In the following podcast by "The Adaptors," Ryan Bradley dives into (pun!) this strange world through his journey of trying to buy $500 worth of water. Learn how some of the rules of water are based on how the West was won (frontiersman politics?) and some fascinating industry lingo like "waterlitics."
If the situation in California becomes so dire that the people who own that water have to choose between distributing it to farmers or to you, what's going to happen?
It would be one thing if people were just using too much water because then it could solved by restricting water use in affected areas. But it's not just that we're using too much, it's that some of the water we use isn't even owned by us OR the government. What will help is understanding this wild issue and pushing for more transparency.