Thursday, May 17, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere...

....and not a drop to drink (eventually). While three-quarters of the Earth's surface is water, less than 1% (0.37% to be exact) of that water is drinkable. It is forecasted by the year 2025 that two thirds of the world population will be without safe drinking water and basic sanitation services.
- 95% of the fresh water in the U.S. is underground. One-Fifth of U.S. irrigated land is fed from the Ogallala aquifer, which stretches from Texas to South Dakota. "It is being depleted at a rate of 12 billion cubic meters per year, amounting to a total depletion to date of a volume equal to the annual flow of 18 Colorado Rivers. Some estimates say it will dry up in as little as 25 years."
-The Middle East has only 1% of the world's available fresh water, which is shared among 5% of the world's population. The number of water-scarce countries in the Middle East and North Africa has risen from 3 in 1955, to 11 by 1990. Another 7 are anticipated to join the list by 2025.
-China has 20% of the world’s population but only 7% of water global resources. More than half of their 660 cities suffer from water shortages. 90% of cities’ groundwater and 75% of rivers and lakes are polluted. 30 cubic kilometers more water is being pumped to the surface each year by farmers than is replaced by rainfall. Also, the lower reaches of the Yellow River, which feeds China's most important farming region, run dry for at least 200 days every year.

So, with that said; Being that (drinkable) water is such a finite resource (I can just see it now, $67/barrel of water offered on the CBOT) Water infrastructure should hold big opportunity for investors. "In just a year and a half, PowerShares Water Resources (PHO) has become the flagship of the provider's 86 offerings" with $1.7 billion in assets. Claymore Securities and First Trust Advisors this week launched the Claymore S&P Global Water Index (CGW) and First Trust ISE Water Index (FIW). Also, check out some top water stocks and "Freakonomics Clean Water Holdings."

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