Author Topic: The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman  (Read 18528 times)


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I usually wait to finish a book before recommending it, but I'm halfway through this fascinating book and can't recommend it enough.  When I "The Grid", I realized how little I knew about the electricity infrastructure and how bad it is in this country, and the Big Thirst is a similar awakening. 

The author wrote "The Walmart Effect" and is an entertaining writer, which is unfortunatley uncommon in non-fiction books. I thought I knew more about more water than the average bear because I actually worked on a couple of M&A deals for a water utility when I was in private practice, but I really had no idea how little I knew. The seed was planted to learn about water a few years ago when I saw the Big Short movie and the epilogue mentioned that Burry was interested in water.   I have looked at a couple of companies where part of the value is the water rights (Tejon Ranch (pass) and Intrepid Potash (small position for me))but still can't see a clear way to make money on it.  I know Buffett years ago bought a minority interest in a water utility so is that the side of the table where the money will be made?     

I'm still in the thinking phase about how to make money from water because it is very political. At this moment that state of Georgia is fighting with Alabama and Florida in a supreme court case over water rights and the great lake states have passed a law forbidding their water to be shipped outside of the region.  Places like Phoenix and Las Vegas are growing like weeds, but that can't continue without more water (which belongs to other people in other states).   

Although I'm not done with it yet, it's given me a lot to think about. 
If it's important, do it every day. If it's not important, don't do it at all.  -Dan Gable


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I think investing in a business that would benefit from the tailwind of water conservation is a way you might be able to invest. For example Valmont Industries has an irrigation segment that supposedly makes fancy sprinklers for the ag industry. The sprinklers save water relative to current forms of irrigation. If I remember right, Valmont and another company have close to a duopoly in this segment. Just an idea, I have no money invested in Valmont.


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I'd look at purification, flow control, etc. Making water potable and transporting it will be critical. Much of the world, as he points out, does not have 24/7 on demand water.


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Water is an interesting field, but itís hard to invest in. In the end, who owns the water and who can do what with it is determined by politics. There is and industry around water (irrigation, desalination, filtration, pumps), but itís actually not growing that fast and I donít think there are any huge moats there either.
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I'm trying to figure out how to invest in water too.  So far, nothing especially promising.