I see what you are saying… it’s something that nature gives to us freely (when it rains) and that we can gather readily and easily (like going down to a stream with a bucket)… but CLEAN water, unfortunately, is owned by the water company… and it is bought and sold, which makes it a commodity. It’s a similar question to this: Can land be owned? The land is permanent, but we do have “property rights” to it — and the same goes for water. So yes, it can be owned — whether or not this should be the case is a matter of philosophy and law.
Yes, there actually exists a entire portion of environmental law devoted solely to water ownership. There are two kinds of controversial water ownership, private and public. Private water is usually water found on private lands (stream, pond, well, etc.). In many western states, one can actually buy a piece of land but not the underground rights, meaning they do not own the water and minerals under the ground and they can be mined by corporations who own the ‘water rights’ for the land. The second, public ownership, is far more controversial and has greater impacts. For instance, currently, Mexico relies on the Colorado River for a large portion of its water. However, if the US were to dam the river or use nearly all the water, where does that leave Mexico. Do they have the rights to the water, or is it ours because it originates in the US. Debates like this will become even more prevalent in the coming years and over the last decades, many countries, like the US and Mexico, that share water sources have been forced to strike accords with one another to prevent further political struggle.
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