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Wall Street buys up Columbia River Basin water

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Rockies Today

October 28 · Issue #24 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Wall Street buys up Columbia River Basin water
Evan Bush of The Seattle Times investigates a Wall Street-backed firm’s plan to buy, lease and sell Washington state water in a privately operated water market of its own creation.
Wall Street spends millions to buy up Washington state water Wall Street spends millions to buy up Washington state water
Follow the water and you’ll find the money.
That’s how it often works in the dusty rural corners of Washington, where a Wall Street-backed firm is staking an ambitious venture on the state’s water.
Crown Columbia Water Resources since 2017 has targeted the water rights of farms on tributaries of the mighty Columbia River.
This March, the company sealed a $340,000 deal for Douglas County water.
The same day, it paid $1.69 million for a farming partnership’s water in Columbia County.
Two months later, the company spent nearly $1.61 million near Walla Walla.
Piece by piece, the company’s lawyer, Mark Peterson, is constructing a portfolio to span the state, building out a plan he hopes will untangle the arcane world of water rights, and thrust it into a 21st-century free market.
Worldwide, as temperatures rise and aquifers dry, investors are increasingly bullish on water, and buying vineyards, farms and ranches for what’s underneath or flowing through.
In Washington state, there’s little water left unclaimed, according to the state Ecology Department. In the future, scientists expect less snowpack, more variable precipitation and more frequent summer water shortages.
Amid a changing climate, a population boom in Washington and churning development, Peterson’s client plans to buy, lease and sell water in a privately operated water market of its own creation. Crown’s activities here are unprecedented in scope for a private firm.
The company’s aggressive pursuit of water could put it in the vanguard.
Or it could all evaporate.
Ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and Canada over the Columbia River could shift flows, potentially draining demand.
Feds shift gears on ORVs in Utah national parks
And more news relating to the Interior Department and public lands:
Feds shift gears, now say off-road vehicles won’t be allowed in national parks in Utah Feds shift gears, now say off-road vehicles won’t be allowed in national parks in Utah
Tribune editorial: As federal workers face violence, rural leaders play politics
Critics gear up for response to lease sale in Arctic refuge
House panel OKs update to mining law; critics say it will kill industry
House to vote on Western public-lands measures
Tripling of Interior's FOIA backlog poses test for new rules
'Where hunting still has meaning'
“Fewer people are picking up a rifle or bow, but the act warrants examination regardless,” Emily Benson writes in the editor’s note introducing the new issue of High Country News. The cover story and more reporting and essays:
A hunt for tribal recognition at the U.S.-Canada border A hunt for tribal recognition at the U.S.-Canada border
Killing Bullwinkle: Big money and controversy surround Western trophy hunts
Faced with chronic wasting disease, what’s a hunting family to do?
In Southeast Alaska, a hunter searches for kinship with the wild
A drill-down into Colorado's oil and gas study
What the science really tells us about that latest oil and gas study What the science really tells us about that latest oil and gas study
Meanwhile…
New attack ad from oil and gas industry ally blasts Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats for 'junk science'
And more energy news:
Spring Creek Mine re-opens, but challenges remain
Gazette opinion: Colstrip cleanup, bonding grows urgent
How coal bankruptcies are changing the health insurance conversation
Wyoming's ailing uranium sector needs an emergency boost, industry says
'Powerhouse': With its wind and sunshine, Montana could help meet carbon neutral standards
Alberta renewable power developers discover more energy sources make better projects
Comment period opens for $20.6B Frontier oil sands mine project in Alberta
What else we're reading today
Fish population in upper Clark Fork River in steep decline
Jackson Hole moose collisions climb
Fire-ravaged forests get help from pine cone collectors
Indian Country Today joins the Associated Press
Documentary focuses on fight against gold mine near Yellowstone National Park
Two documentaries explore Wyoming migrations
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812