A look at how water is bought, sold in California as prices spike amid drought

Farmers, city managers and energy companies alike are hustling to find water amid the withering drought sweeping California. But hunting for water can be complicated when there is little for sale.

Those with water to spare often sell off their caches privately, in California as well as in other Western states that have been hit by drought in recent years, including Texas and Colorado.

Here is how those transactions often work:

--Farmers, cities or companies find a water broker, or identify someone within their organization to broker deals.

--The broker seeks entities that may have extra water on hand, casting a wide net to inquire with water districts, farmers, municipal governments or companies.

--They arrange a private sale, or bid on water through a semi-public auction.

--If the resulting sale involves the use of state or federal infrastructure or the sale of water rights, entities seek approval from government agencies.