Other statistics by the UN Water website show that only about 2.5 percent of the total volume of water on Earth represents fresh water. Of this amount, less than 1 percent of all usable fresh water resources available for humans and ecosystems are readily accessible.
Some of the business opportunities that are being impacted from water scarcity include global grain trade, sales of water rights, bio-fuels, and water conservation and efficiency consultants, according to Michael Thaler, President of TLR Energy, a carbon and sustainability firm.
“It takes about 1,000 tons of water to create 1 ton of wheat, therefore this effectively makes trading of grains equivalent to trading of water,” Mr. Thaler said.
Based on his research, roughly 70 percent of all fresh water is used for agriculture, while 22 percent is devoted to industry consumption, and 8 percent for domestic use.
Mr. Thaler anticipates that as fresh water scarcity intensifies, the intrinsic value of water would need to be incorporated in the price of products that are water intensive in their manufacturing process; similar to what is expected on the cost of carbon.
Indeed, currently it takes approximately 155 liters of water to produce one liter of beer; 2,000-5,000 liters of water to produce one person's daily food; and 13,000-15,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of grain-fed beef.
“The need for fresh water is going to be one of the major challenges in the 21st century and onward, with industries facing regulatory risks,” Mr. Thaler predicts. “Governments are going to have to get involved in controlling the use of fresh water for industrial purposes.”
Public companies and ETFs involved in water resources include:
- American Water Works
- Aqua Americans
- Watts Water Technologies
- California Water Service Group
- American States Water
- Insituform Technologies
- Ameron International
- Northwest Pipe
- PowerShares Water Resource Portfolio
- PowerShares Global Water Portfolio
- Claymore S&P Global Water
Sources: UN-Water, OECD, WWAP
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