It seems that in the wake of recent economic turmoil and growing concern over a real energy crisis that another major worldwide problem has been put on the backburner: a growing lack of fresh water.
And while water stocks were rallying a few months back, the buying—as well as the press coverage—seems to have subsided. But if you pay close attention to nuanced news sites and niche media outlets, you'll see that the water crisis is still a pressing issue.
Plus, with most market sectors recently falling anywhere from 10% to 20%, now could be a good time to get your feet wet, so to speak.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how the water picture is shaping up for the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Farmers to Sell Water, Not Crops
In Fresno, California, where water is becoming ever more precious, a few farmers have decided it is more profitable to sell their water supplies in lieu of using them to water their crops.
You see, water shortages this season in the U.S. Southwest are the worst they've been in the past ten years, and prices are responding accordingly—much the same way a shortage of oil drives the price per barrel higher.
According to Bruce Rolen, a farmer in the Sacramento Valley, "It [selling water] just makes sense right now. There's more economic advantage to fallowing [not planting] than to raising a crop."
This spring, instead of planting rice like he usually does, Rolen plans on selling his water on the open market—where it could fetch a 200% premium on recent average prices.
That's according to U.S. Water News Online, which also said, "Water from Northern California rivers irrigates most of the country's winter vegetables and keeps faucets flowing in the Los Angeles area. But it must be shipped south through a complex network of pumps, pipes and aqueducts, and that system recently developed a kink when a federal judge ordered new restrictions on pumping to save a threatened fish."
As Arnold and the state legislature try to hash out a solution to the state's water woes, the problem is only getting worse—and the price is only going higher.
Take a look at a few of restrictions and measures that have been enacted in various parts of California:
· Citizens of Long Beach can no longer run fountains
· It's now illegal to serve customers water unless they specifically request it
· Nut farmers in Bakersfield must decide which trees to save and which to let die and
· Municipalities are depleting their underground reserves to avoid new water purchases
Things are getting so bad that residents served by the Los Angeles' Metropolitan Water District could face a proposed rate hike of up to 20%—and that's just for next year.
Executives at the state's Department of Water Resources say the price of water, at times, has already risen 300%, and could go back to those levels if solutions aren't found.
Residents are already complaining about increased water prices and Orange County has developed a program dubbed by the press as Toilet-to-Tap. Desperate times. . .
Beyond the not-so-isolated problem of the U.S. Southwest and the lengths they'll go to secure their supply of fresh water, other regions of the world are facing similar problems.
In fact, a few weeks ago U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the water issue a top priority for the U.N. and urged the world to put the looming crisis at the top of the global agenda.
He also noted that the conflict in Darfur was originally sparked by drought and remarked that water shortages contribute to poverty and hardship in Somalia, Chad, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Colombia and Kazakhstan.
He added, "Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon."
And a recent report by London-based International Alert cited 46 countries with 2.7 billion people where water-related crises have created "a high risk of violent conflict." An additional 56 countries with 1.2 billion people were at risk of the same.
That's 3.9 billion people—a full 60% of the word's population. Let that sink in.
This will turn out to be one of the defining crises of our time. It will certainly rival Peak Oil and Climate Change.
And the lucrative investment opportunities will be analogous as well, especially as billions are poured into conserving, cleaning and desalinating water. For more information on this, visit the Alternative Energy Speculator.
At Green Chip Stocks, we've already composed a water index, and we'll be recommending individual water-related investment opportunities soon.
To stay on top of this scenario as it unfolds, you can join our free e-letter, the Green Chip Review.
Until next time,