Who Will Get Rich from Water’s Scarcity?


Today the commodity receiving the most interest is gold, but water is the one commodity we can’t live without.  As National Geographic put it back in 1993, “All the water that will ever be is, right now.”  Our supply of water is limited, but as long as we demand to water our lawns at noon or having lawns in sweltering climates, increased demand should amount to an increase in prices.  The only question that remains is, who will get rich from the most precious commodity of the new millennium?

Invest in Water Company Stocks

Water company stocks are certainly one option.  Purchase shares in companies like American Water Works Co. Inc. (NYSE: AWK): American Water Works provides water and waste water services to 15 million people in 30 U.S. states and parts of Canada.  The stock pays almost a 3% dividend and its performance last year was up 25% while the broad market increased a little of over 1%.

There are many other water stocks to consider including the following:
Aqua America Inc. (NYSE: WTR): Aqua America is a holding company for a group of regulated utilities serving 3 million customers in 13 states ranging from Texas to Maine. California Water Service Group (NYSE: CWT): This water company is a utility that serves California, Washington, New Mexico, and Hawaii, and American States Water Co. (NYSE: AWR): This California-based utility provides water, electric, and contracted services in the United States.

Invest in Water Exchange Traded Funds

Another option is to invest in water Exchange Traded Funds (ETF).  Think of an exchange traded fund as a mutual fund that trades on a public exchange, like the New York Stock Exchange.  You get the diversification of a fund with the added benefit of the liquidity of a public exchange.  Following are a few of the popular water ETFs today.

PowerShares Global Water Portfolio (PIO): This ETF is based on the Palisades Global Water Index. It focuses on companies providing potable water.  The past year the ETF was down 16%.

PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio (PHO): PHO is the largest Water ETF with more than $1 billion in assets. It also invests in companies providing potable water.  Last year it was down 7%.

Guggenheim S&P Global Water Index ETF (CGW): This ETF corresponds to the S&P Global Water Index. This ETF is the first US listed global Water ETF. It was also down 7% last year.

First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (FIW): focuses on companies with waste water and potable water direction.  It lost 3% over the past year.

It’s interesting to me to see that during last year, a time when stock prices were flat and water prices moved higher, all the ETFs had losing years.  This explains why the stock market still remains a mystery to me.

Please do not take any of the information on this post as a recommendation to buy the stocks or ETFs.  This is simply an attempt to start a meaningful conversation on the blog about investing in water.

Would you bet a portion of your portfolio on the price increase of water?

I hope many of you will be able to provide some insight or experience.  So, come on, connect, contribute, make waves.

Richard Restuccia

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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. As the Director for Water Management Solutions at ValleyCrest, Richard is our spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees including the Government and Regulatory Affairs Committee for the Irrigation Association, the San Diego Water Conservation Action Committee and was a founding member of the Central Control Users’ Group in the Central Valley of California.



  1. Thursday, 1:21 Dan Puthuff

    Richard, I really enjoyed this blog–very thought provoking. I think you may be on to something with this topic, water could replace gold as the most valuable commodity. Now if I just knew when this was going to happen…..! Keep the great topics coming.

  2. Friday, 8:08 Alan Harris

    As my good friend @h2oMatters noted on Twitter: “Who needs oil? There’s $$$ in them there h2o molecules> Authority seals $103M water deal with T. Boone Pickens.” This deal locked down the water rights on 211,000 acres which equates to about 4 trillion gallons of water.

  3. Monday, 12:15 William Valdez

    Richard, Thanks for this info I’ve been looking at this similar angle for a play on water the past year. I will pass this on to my financial adviser for a closer look at these companies. How ironic for landscapers the best long term hedge may be to join those who have the most power over our Industry outside of water conservation itself. Think, what will water cost in 5,10 years ? People or Plants will never Ever survive without WATER!!!!

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