We study a municipal groundwater management problem to determine optimal allocation and control policies in the presence of water transfer opportunities. We establish and characterize threshold polices governing export or import decisions of a given municipality. In the spirit of the Triple Bottom Line (3BL), we ascertain that exporting (importing) water through a water market defined by an exogenous export/import price is detrimental (beneficial) to both society and the environment within the municipality. In contrast, fixed quantity trading between two municipalities defined by an endogenously negotiated export/import price can have positive as well as negative impacts from a global 3BL perspective. In particular, typical trading scenarios that occur between municipalities can be detrimental to the environment. We also study the implications of privatization, and find that a privatized municipality would be more (less) likely to export (import) water as compared to its non‐privatized counterpart, resulting in negative implications for society within the municipality. However, if exports are banned, privatization can benefit the environment by mitigating the damage caused by the extraction differential, a phenomenon analogous to the green paradox. Moreover, careful and restricted privatization of municipalities can lead to positive global 3BL impacts from fixed quantity trading.