Investing in the world's water crisis

All across the globe, communities are facing a lack of access to clean drinking water. Several U.S. companies have jumped in to help find solutions.

Water faucet tap
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UNICEF and the World Health Organization estimate that 768 million people do not have access to safe drinking water. As economies and populations expand, more water is needed to support this growth.

For example, Sao Paulo, which is home to more than 20 million people, is starting to run out of water as it grapples with one of the worst droughts in history, pollution and population growth. The unregulated disposal of human waste in the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, for example, and insufficient drainage, has resulted in standing pools of contaminated water. During severe weather conditions, these pools present a major source of sewage-related outbreaks of diseases.

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Right here in the U.S., algae blooms caused by fertilizer and nitrogen runoffs from agriculture into Lake Erie caused its water plant to become blocked, which resulted in water being shut down for hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio.

A few companies and their peers are leading the way in solving the world's water crisis, while focusing on their bottom line.

Consolidated Water has created a profitable business with its industry-leading technology for desalinated water. The company is experiencing exciting growth in the Caribbean and has made great traction in Mexico.

MagneGas Corporation has focused on the sterilization of waste water while producing a usable gas by-product. Through their patented Plasma Arc Flow technology, the company is able to completely sanitize waste water by reaching flame temperatures of over 10,000 degrees. The company is currently pursuing numerous global contracts focused in the emerging markets.

Abtech Holdings has had success in sterilizing flood waters and other contaminated water sources in the U.S. The company has a patented filtration technology with numerous applications.

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The world finds itself in a promising situation with the traditional methods of addressing its water being outdated in the wake of an ever-expanding population and shift in climate. New innovations as to how we are accessing and treating water are leading the way for how we will progress and thrive as a global society. Failing to adapt and embrace these new technologies will only leave us in a weakened position.

It has been estimated by the WHO that, for every US$1 invested in providing clean water and sanitation, an economic return of between US$3 and US$34 would be achieved, depending on the region. The benefits would also include an average global reduction of diarrheal episodes of 10 percent and a total annual economic benefit of US$84 billion.

Now that is a real return on investment that goes beyond the bottom line.

Commentary by Jack Brewer, a former NFL safety who played for the Vikings, Giants, Eagles and Cardinals. He is also the founder and CEO of the Brewer Group. He has a master's degree in sports management from the University of Minnesota. He serves as an ambassador for peace and sport for the United States Federation of Middle East Peace at the United Nations. Follow him on Twitter@JackBrewerBSI.

Disclosure: Jack Brewer and the Brewer Group have invested in MagneGas.

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