- How regulated the water markets are right now?
- What the chances of good reform are in the near future?
- First note that hardly any water markets exist. Most water provision is by a local monopoly (state or private), and details of that provision vary. In the US, all residential water quality is regulated for public safety. (Bottled water is often regulated by the USDA, but the regulations tend to be lighter.) Private water providers have their prices regulated by Public [sic] Utilities Commissions; public water providers have their prices set by politicians. In developing countries, there is little regulation, or regulators are another division of corrupt, incompetent government, i.e., bad quality and high prices.
- Good reform? Depends on what you mean. At a minimum, reforms take years to implement. (Southern California water prices change annually.) As far as allowing new markets, etc.? That either happens fast (drought and shortage force trading) or not at all. The California Drought Water Bank varies from frantic to comatose.
Bottom Line: Water distribution involves local institutions. Learn about yours.