Water is right up there on the list of essentials for life. Humans can’t live for more than a few days without a tall (preferably cool) glass of H2O. Our bodies are 60 percent water, and it’s essential for every vital function keeping us alive and comfortable in our own skin.
Without water, we’d be unable to grow food, tend to livestock, or keep ourselves clean. Water is inextricable from life — from its most basic form all the way through disease control, food supply and the advancement of civilization.
Water scarcity in developing countries
In places where water is scarce, entire days can be spent traveling for it. That means there’s no time for much else, including school or work. This impacts literacy, quality of life, and limits opportunity (particularly for women and children) in these water-starved regions.
Beyond this, 2.1 billion people have no access to basic drinking-water services. Many of these people depend on surface water, which is often contaminated by untreated wastewater. It’s estimated that over 800,000 people die every year from contaminated drinking water.
These cases of water shortage might seem far away. But the reality is on a global scale, our clean water supply is diminishing faster than it’s replenishing. Every continent is affected by water scarcity.
Water demand is expected to be a full 40% above the current supply as soon as 2030. Additionally, by 2050, two-thirds of the world will be “water stressed.” Two billion people will face water scarcity. With 15,000 people born every hour worldwide, we need solutions in place as soon as possible.
Water scarcity and contamination in the U.S.
In the U.S. alone, $2.6 billion is lost every year as trillions of gallons of treated drinking water leak from century-old water mains and raw sewage discharges into surface water from outdated sewer systems.
Some cities provide drinking water through water channels installed 50 to 100 years ago. Some of these old pipes contain of lead and other unsafe materials. Lead in drinking water can cause cognitive issues, impaired nerve function, infertility or birth defects, among other health problems.
You might have heard about this when the water crisis in Flint Michigan made national headlines in 2015. But it’s not an isolated issue. America’s drinking water crisis is widespread. Dozens of places around the country have water with even higher levels of lead than in Flint.
The market for clean water innovation
Our ability to find new ways to reduce water waste, clean and reuse water will play an enormous role in how we survive and thrive over the next few decades. Over the next 20 years, the EPA estimates a necessary $655 billion invested in water infrastructure.
Federal, state and local governments don’t have the funds to support the necessary investment, leaving a huge gap in the market. That gap is where public companies come in. Hexa Research predicts the water and wastewater treatment market as a whole will be worth $674.72 billion by 2025.
By investing in the companies leading the way to water safety, you’ll support the action they’re taking. You’ll also be an early investor in, not a disposable commodity, but an absolute necessity.
Think investing in the railroad when cross country-trade was just getting its legs, or Coca-Cola when soda pop was just becoming cool. Well… maybe not that second one. But you get the idea. When a market is trending upward, the sooner you invest the better.
What companies are working toward clean water and how are they doing it?
The happy news is that there are companies innovating new ways to conserve, purify and safely recycle water.
Ecolab, Inc. develops technology and services for water, hygiene, and energy. Their Nalco Water business has a host of products designed to help industries use and reuse water resources. Their technologies helped companies save 161 billion gallons of water in 2016.
Aqua America, Inc. provides clean water and water services. The company invested $1.5 billion in infrastructure renewal between 2012 and 2016. This included replacing more than 700 miles of outdated and unsafe water mains.
By investing in these (and similar) companies with clean water solutions, you’re taking action to ensure future water security for everyone. There couldn’t be a wiser investment than one built around what people literally cannot live without. Find out more about how companies like these are innovating for safe water, and how you can own a part of it, in our Clean Water Portfolio.