It is time to stop calling the financial industry executives who are buying up freshwater “investors” or “hedge fund managers” and instead call them “drought profiteers.”
I mean, you can also call them vultures and parasites. They all apply quite well. Come up with your own names for them. Get creative with it. Really listen to your heart.
Water. We all need it to survive. It’s the main ingredient in alcohol. Just think of how many more people would be killed each year if we didn’t have alcohol to take the edge off. But here’s the problem: as the climate crisis causes drought around the world, the richest of the rich are snatching up all the fresh water.
“The Great Water Grab: Wall Street is buying up the world’s water,” Our Santa Fe River, 2019.
“Corporations Are Consolidating Water and Land Rights in the West,” Governing, 2022
In one example, reported by CBS News in January, “New York investors have been snapping up Colorado River water rights, betting big on the increasingly scarce resource.”
One of the worst is a New York hedge fund called Water Asset Management (WAM). See that sounds responsible – water asset management. Unfortunately, that name’s like a prison state named Freedom Asset Management.
“[WAM] has bought at least $20 million worth of land in Western Colorado in the last five years, making it one of the largest landowners in the Grand Valley. The hedge fund… says it invests exclusively in assets and companies that ensure water supply and quality,” reports CBS News.
Right. They “ensure water supply and quality.”
For whom do they ensure that water quality? Is it for the military veteran with no legs begging for change in the subway? Is it for the single mom working two jobs? Is that who they are ensuring “water supply and quality” for?
No. It’s for the highest bidder. That’s who.
It’s like saying Octapharma, one of the largest paid blood extraction companies, ensures blood “supply and quality” as they suck it out of the poorest people in the U.S.
The co-founder and president of Water Asset Management, Matthew Diserio, called water in the U.S. “a trillion-dollar market opportunity.”
He is saying stealing water from the people and selling it back to the ones who can afford it is good for his bank account.
And since we are already in a climate crisis, this is not a problem for the future. Reservoirs across the country are already nearing empty.
Meteorologist Greg Postel told CBS News that Lake Powell in Arizona and Lake Mead in Nevada “are at historic lows. They’re at just 25% of their full, combined capacity. There are real fears that this crucial water supply for the West is on the brink of disaster.”
Of course, this corporate water heist is nothing new; it’s just that people have noticed it more recently.
Perhaps you remember five years ago when The Guardian reported that Nestle was only paying $200 a year to steal millions of gallons of fresh water from Michigan. Bottle it and sell it to people around the world for billions of dollars. It’s a beautiful, insane system.
Watch Lee Camp’s full report on the water wars above.