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Key Takeaways

  • Some of the world’s most dynamic cities have faced—and will again face—severe water shortages.
  • Spending to meet this challenge is currently insufficient, but cities are spending more.
  • A range of firms and a purpose-built ETF can help you profit by doing good.

The Economic, Environmental, & Social Impact of Water Purification

Cape Town was the first. But it surely won’t be the last. The South African city came within days of running out of water, creating severe hardships for residents across the region.

Access to ample supplies of potable water is a growing concern across the globe. We’ve already seen water crises in major cities such as Beijing, Moscow, Istanbul, Cairo and Mexico City. It’s a strange outcome for a liquid planet.

Around 70% of the globe is covered in water, but just 2.5% of that water is potable at the source. And much of that water is locked up in ice. While there has been a growing allocation of funds to address this challenge, not enough is being done. The United Nations notes that 80% of the nations it is tracking in terms of improved water management are still under-spending, relative to their current and future needs.

The World Bank says that investments in water infrastructure need to triple to $114 billion per year if all global citizens are to have avoid a repeat of the scenario we saw in Cape Town. Failure to act boldly enough could create a 6% drag on global GDP growth, adds the World Bank.

Thankfully, there are growing array of smart technology tools that can help provide clean water management and distribution. Water sensors are a proactive part of this tech push. They can stem water waste and help conserve this precious resource.

These sensors will be part of a projected $8.3 billion in water technology spending by 2027, says the Northeast Group LLC. Globally, we’re talking about a 7% yearly increase in spending on water quality sensors.

Top global suppliers of water system sensors and water treatment systems include public firms such as Honeywell, Samsung, Mueller Water Products along with private firms such as Leaktronics, Master Meter, and In-Situ.

The PowerShares Water Resources ETF (PHO) is the largest of five passive investment funds targeting this growing environmental niche. The fund carries a 0.62% expense ratio and includes firms such as Aqua America, American Water Works and Waters Corp.

As spending on these sensors ramps up, investors will have a chance to both improve the environment while reaping profits.