There may not be enough water for the both of us. According to the federal govermment, thirty-six states face water shortages, now and for years to come. The Associated Press story contained a fact that surprised me. The U.S. already has over a thousand desalination plants. The largest is in Florida. It's the Tampa Bay plant which has a troubled history including three bankruptcies and a lawsuit, but it should be fully operational next year. We've already blogged about a large desalination plant to be built in Australia. They hope to power that one with wind energy.
The AP quotes numerous private and public officials to the effect that water will stop being cheap and new efficiencies will be called for. Water and the ways it is used and purified for drinking or industry are very attractive to VC investment and technological innovators. Just recently ZDnet reported on a new membrane being developed to clean seawater for human use.
This hasn't been lost on some folks with big money. Heather blogged about IBM investing in a water tech company. And how tech can make irrigation more efficient. Good news as agriculture is major user of water in many parts of the world, espiecially in the the U.S.'s leading farm state, California.
There are private equity funds like Aqua International Partners. Khosla Ventures has an interest in a membrane tech start-up. And in Texas, there's GeoPure also working on water recovering and recycling technologies.
Forget melting ice caps, rising sea levels, too much CO2 in the atmosphere, raging petroleum prices. You want a frightening stat? The U.S. uses a half million gallons of fresh water, annually, for each American. And I think I could go longer without gasoline than I could water. I still reel when I review the stat that only 2% of the Earth's water is potable. This strikes me as a serious crisis. You know how much water it takes to brew beer?
Well there are over 35 billion gallons of beer made annually on this planet, to keep things moving forward. And 90% of that is water! Think about it too long and you won't sleep easy tonight.