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Bulk Water Exports

Blue Lake in Sitka, Alaska. Photo by Don Kluting

As global freshwater resources become more scarce, many options are on the table to reduce demand and increase supplies. While conservation, desalination, and pipeline diversion schemes are well-known potential solutions, an emerging possibility is bulk water export: shipping water in 80-million-gallon tankers, typically designed for oil. Bulk water shipments have been discussed for decades, but large-volume shipments have never been successful. Proposed deals have been blocked by logistics and cheaper local sources, as well as concerns for the sovereignty and commodification of natural resources.

But interest in bulk water may see new life. Sitka, Alaska — a small town along the southeastern coast of the state — has tried to cash in on its abundant water resources. One company's persistent attempts to ship Sitka's fresh water to India and the Middle East has run into turbulence and economic realities. The Sitka proposal and similar stories around the world belie the challenges and the alluring promise of transporting and selling the world's "blue gold."

Feature Stories

Alaska Bulk Water Shipments to California Proposed

Despite a signed contract, Sitka city officials say the real test is whether water is actually delivered.

Alaska Bulk Water Company Receives Export Contract Extension, Wants to Split with Partner

True Alaska Bottling sends a notice of dissolution to S2C Global, which rejects the disbanding of their joint bulk water export company.

Bulk Water Company Plans to Export to India, East Asia and the Caribbean

‘Water has to come to the people,’ president of S2C Global tells Circle of Blue.

Bulk Water Companies Face Challenges Before Shipments Start From Alaska

Many companies have previously failed at bulk water shipments.

Alaska City Set to Ship Water to India, U.S. Company Announces

Within six to eight months, S2C Global Systems will ship water from Alaska to a hub in India.

Alaska Receives New Applications for Bulk Water Removal

While bulk water sales haven’t been completed, three new applications show interest is still strong.

Bulk Water Exports: Alaska City Wants to Sell the World a Drink

Water shipped in large tankers designed for oil as a supply solution to the global freshwater crisis?

Public Opinion on Bulk Water Sales Ranges From ‘Makes Sense’ to ‘Hell No!’

Bulk water sales have succeeded and been banned around the world.

Sitka’s Resource Piggy Bank is Water

After a decade of unsuccessful attempts to sell bulk water, Sitka hopes to sell 50 million gallons by 2011.


Infographic: Alaska to India Bulk Water Export Data

Sitka, Alaska to send millions of gallons of water to India, which will then be distributed in the Middle East.

Timeline: North American Bulk Water Sales

Bulk water has been attempted and banned around the world. Visualize the last decade of attempts in Sitka.

Related Stories

Bottling Wastewater Expands Island’s Oasis—Singapore’s NEWater Path to Independence

Singapore is first to bottle and sell wastewater for drinking.

Bulk Water Shipping Company Misses Deadline to Export From Alaska

The breach of contract will most likely result in a deadline extension, Sitka city officials say.

Study: Overpumping Draws Down the World’s Groundwater Reserves

Groundwater depletion doubled between 1960 and 2000.

Report Suggests Repealing Canadian Bulk Water Bans

The Fraser Institute, a right-leaning Canadian think tank, wants a shift in government water policy.

Singapore Will Cut Water Imports from Malaysia, Pursue Self-Sufficiency

Infrastructure to succeed Malaysia import agreement, expiring in 2011.

Montreal Think Tank: Quebec Should Exploit Water for Profit

A non-partisan think tank says Quebec should export one-tenth of water resources to gain $6.5 billion annually.

Drought-stricken Cyprus Makes Stink About Smelly Imported Water

A tanker carrying water from Greece arrived two weeks ago, but lack of infrastructure prevented offloading.

Short Pipe Delays Cyprus-Greece Water Exchange

Cyprus waits for 40,000 cubic meters of water from Greece.

Q&A: James Olson on Great Lakes Compact, Water Privatization

Expert gives opinion on the international agreement intended to protect.

Drought Forces Barcelona To Ship In Water

Catalonia plans to ship in 438 million gallons of water via six monthly ships to offset the worst drought in 70 years.

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