The Economist jumped into the ongoing coverage about water supplies in the West in its most recent edition, looking at ways in which water shortages are leading to water markets.
The story looks at San Diego’s purchase of water from the Imperial Irrigation District and says:
Farmers in the Imperial irrigation district, east of San Diego, pay $17 per acre-foot of water (that is, enough to flood an acre of land a foot deep, equivalent to 1.2m litres). In San Diego a household that used the same amount in a year would pay $1,311. …
Clay Landry of WestWater, a consulting firm, points out that cities can get hold of the stuff much more quickly by buying it from farmers than by building reservoirs and desalination plants. Water contracts are becoming more sophisticated: southern California’s cities routinely buy options to guarantee supply in dry years.