September 24, 2021
Proposals to Create Water Banks Would Allow Farmers with Excess Water to Lease it to Those in Need
Proposals to create “water banks” or “water markets” would allow farmers with excess supply to lease it to those in need as drought ravages the American West. The idea is part of a discussion about letting the free market play a bigger role in water conservation as human-caused climate change fuels drought and farmers run out of options.
Yet the concept is fraught with risks and resistance. Larger-scale efforts to spread water more equitably have been uneven. Along the Deschutes River, where every drop is accounted for, many farmers worry that if they lease their water rights, even temporarily, they may not get them back.
“Whether it’s feasible or not is a very local question,” said Brett Bovee of WestWater Research.