Photo © Shutterstock

As climate change causes the polar ice caps to melt, a few entrepreneurs are trying to sell off the ocean’s icebergs as drinking water. Instead of allowing valuable freshwater from melting icebergs to simply disappear into the ocean, these companies are attempting to harvest the water — which often sells at a premium due to its unique origins and supposedly exceptional purity. One Dutch businessman, Guus Backelandt, sells his iceberg water for up to $21 a bottle. He even sells the water to a Canadian company that uses it to distill vodka.

icebergs, freshwater, iceberg harvesting, business scams, iceberg harvesting scams, iceberg water, iceberg vodka, towing icebergs, freshwater harvesting, melting ice, polar ice, ice caps Photo © Shutterstock

This new market has also opened the door to a number of scams, as would-be entrepreneurs will collect money from investors and then fail to actually harvest any ice. In the case of Canadian businessman Otto Spork, nearly $20 million disappeared into thin air, with investors only able to recover a fraction of the money in court.

It isn’t easy to extract the water from these giant chunks of floating ice. Icebergs must be broken into smaller chunks with boats, cranes, and nets before they can be brought on board a ship. The water is heavy and difficult to transport, and towing whole icebergs requires powerful boats and insulating skirts to keep the ice from completely melting away.

Then there’s the question of who even owns the ice. Does the nearest country have the right to sell the ice, or protect it from harvest? Is it legal to hook up a boat to an iceberg and tow it away without any kind of government license? So far, no court or legislative body has tackled the legal challenge, so these companies are operating in a legal gray area.