What is virtual water trading?

Published Jan 31, 2023


The flow of water used to produce goods that are then exported around the world is called virtual water trading.1Graham, Neal T. et al. “Future changes in the trading of virtual water.” Nature Communications. Vol. 11, No. 3632 at abstract and 2. Virtual water trading is already common, but exporting water from nonrenewable groundwater basins is predicted to double by 2100 as climate change intensifies water scarcity in some regions.

Exporting groundwater can contribute to depletion and over-drafting which can have significant consequences, especially in over-drafted basins like the Central Valley.