This was my first "public comment" at the Legislative Commission's Subcommittee to Study Water on April 22, 2016:
Please don't commodify Nevada's water.
I warn you now; we will not want to pay speculator driven “market” prices for our water.
We already have hedge funds investing in Nevada's water. Obviously, they're hoping that the “market price” will go through the roof. In Australia, where the commodification of water has been called “unbundling,” speculators have drastically driven up the price of water for water users. Consequently a huge number of farms have been driven out of business, urban users have faced severe restrictions, and Australia's environment has suffered dire consequences.
In Israel, where there is no legal doctrine of prior appropriation rights; some Israelis have claimed that they have solved their water problems with a free-market solution. Of course; most Americans have now realized that the term free-market actually means; the freedom for the powerful to take from the rest of us. Part of Israel's “solution” is to take water from the Palestinians. There are places in Palestine where the Palestinians and their crops go thirsty because the water under their feet is being exported to Israel. As a Rural Nevadan of Native American heritage, I don't want to be treated like Israel treats Palestinians.
I can see where the SNWA would want to change Nevada's water laws so that the water from the ranches they bought can be exported. But commodification is not the way to do it. The cost to everyone in the State is not worth it.
In the end; if all that matters about water is the price, only those with money to pay the over-inflated prices will have water.