The shape of water
“Water is life,” or at least that is what we have heard since we were children, and of course, this is 100% true; life on our planet would not be possible without water, but something less common to hear is that water is money, industry and prosperity. Since ancient times, humans have had the tendency to create civilizations around water precisely for this reason. Today the threat of running out of water is more present than ever, but problems mean opportunities which in turn means there’s money to be made. That is why companies around the world are competing to produce revolutionary products that help industries save water and use it more efficiently.
The secret to having enough water for future generations is to use it industrially efficiently; for example, the agricultural sector accounted for approximately 72% of global water demand in 2018. On the other hand, the global water and wastewater treatment market was valued at $282 billion dollars in 2021, and the market is expected to reach a value of approximately $490 billion dollars in 2029, registering a compound annual growth rate of 7.1% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2029.
This means that companies like Ecolab (NYSE: ECL) will become increasingly larger and more important because by offering services that enable the industry to reduce, reuse and recycle water, they achieve a higher level of efficiency, all done through high-value-added technology, making data-driven decisions. In the United States, the average person consumes 385 litres of water per day for their direct daily needs, Ecolab claims that in the year 2021, they managed to save more than 800 billion litres of water, which according to them, is enough water to cover the drinking needs of more than 734 million people.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, estimates that nearly 4 trillion litres of water are lost through leaks each year, which is enough water to supply 11 million U.S. homes. Similarly, it is estimated that fixing easily correctable water leaks in the home can save homeowners 10% on their water bills. That could also mean more water available at times of real demand, which is an important detail because water can be a curse or a blessing relative to when it is received – the only thing worse than a drought is a flood.
Necessity is the mother of inventions; with over 1.3 billion inhabitants, India represents 18% of the world’s population. However, with access to only 4% of the world’s water resources, India is the country with the highest water stress in the world; that is, it is the country with the highest water deficit in the world. At the same time, it is estimated that 70% of the country’s water is polluted, hence the importance of being able to treat, recycle and efficiently use the water we have, and implementing similar water treatment solutions as those developed by American Water Works (NYSE: AWK) in the U.S. The opportunity lies in the fact that certain technological solutions can help save maintenance costs by up to 45% while reducing operating costs by 10 to 15%.
About 66% of household water consumption occurs in bathrooms with toilets or urinals. Up to 33% of water consumption is flushed down the toilet. As boring as it sounds, certain technologies, such as dual-flush toilets, help people use up to 50% less water. On the other hand, water-saving technology in showers is helping to save more than 65% of water by doing the same thing with less water.
Perhaps the real secret to solving the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead with respect to water use really depends on a change of awareness regarding its use; technology at the end of the day is just another tool at the service of the human will, in other words, probably the secret to avoid a future water shortage and ensure water for our grandchildren, is not artificial intelligence or new technologies themselves, but the will to use water with caution.