The price of water in much of the world is minimal in comparison to its vital role in our daily lives. In developed countries the average price of water ranges from $1.91 per square meter (M3) in Germany to $1.18/M3 in the United Kingdom, and $0.51/M3 in the United States. Water prices around the world will likely increase significantly in the coming years, as demand quickly outweighs supply. Many investors have predicted that “water is the next oil”, and some have begun calling water “blue gold” in recognition of its immense increasing value.

As early as 1992, representatives from around the world gathering in Dublin agreed that “Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good… Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.” This was repeated again in the 2nd World Water Forum in 2000, as part of a stated mandate “To manage water in a way that reflects its economic, social, environmental and cultural values for all its uses, and to move towards pricing water services to reflect the cost of their provision” (Ministerial Declaration, The Hague, 2000).

Up Next: Water Shortages and Rising Tension