On Oct. 8, Newsweek magazine ran a feature story, "The New Oil -- Should Private Companies Control Our Most Precious Natural Resource?" The report begins with an account of how 80 million gallons of water from Blue Lake, an unpolluted source near Sitka, Alaska, will soon be pumped into waiting ocean-going tankers and shipped to a bulk bottling facility near Mumbai in India, there to be processed and sold to drought-plagued Middle East countries. The project is the brainchild of two companies -- One, True Alaska Bottling and S2C Global. The former has bought rights to bottle three billion gallons of water a year from Sitka's lakes; the latter is building the facility in India.
The transfer of water is nothing new, the report notes. Los Angeles gets its water from the distant Owens Valley near the Sierras; New York City from the Catskills. What's troubling critics is the transfer of so much water from public to private hands. Free markets, supporters say, are the way to solve the world's looming water shortages.
The Newsweek story contains a wealth of detail about water as the new oil.