Wall Street has begun trading water as a commodity, like gold or oil. The country’s first water market launched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this week with $1.1 billion in contracts tied to water prices in California, Bloomberg News reported.
The market allows farmers, hedge funds, and municipalities to hedge bets on the future price of water and water availability in the American West. The new trading scheme was announced in September, prompted by the region’s worsening heat, drought, and wildfires fueled by climate change. There were two trades when the market went live Monday.
“Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come,” RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray told Bloomberg. “We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops.”