Sukkot is the time to invest in water

As the holiday season winds down, we’ve gone from focusing on repentance to focusing on water.

Kinneret water level continues to rise, April 16, 2020 (photo credit: FIRAS TALHAMI/WATER AUTHORITY)
Kinneret water level continues to rise, April 16, 2020
“Being on a boat that’s moving through the water, it’s so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not.” –James Taylor
As the holiday season winds down, we’ve gone from focusing on repentance to focusing on water. While some of my children focused on the Mediterranean Sea as a way to have spent time this past week of awesome Chol Hamoed (intermediate days of Sukkot) weather to go swimming, we were not able to go because that would be illegal. And of course someone in this country has to follow the rules! The water focus I’m referring to is the upcoming rainy season and our hope that we will continue to be blessed with a year of lots of rain as the previous two years have been.
Those of us who come from western nations tend to take water for granted. You turn on the faucet and voila!, you have a steady stream of water. The Mishna in Tractate Rosh Hashanah says that the world is judged four times during the year: One of those times is on Sukkot, when we are judged for water.
Live a few years in Israel and you can appreciate the fact that whatever water we receive is a gift from above. Rewind 7 months and there was excitement as the Kinneret kept rising to levels not seen in decades. It was just 2 years earlier that it was at a black line and anymore water loss would have been disaster. In March the only question was whether the Deganya Dam would be opened in order to lower the Kinneret level. Let’s hope that we get enough rain that we do indeed open up the Deganya Dam.
Ciara Linnane of MarketWatch quoted the UN World Water Development report for 2018, warning, “that almost 6 billion people are likely to live in areas that suffer water shortages for at least one month a year by 2050, up from 3.6 billion today. The dire situation facing Cape Town, South Africa, a city of 4 million, has further highlighted the problem.
Cape Town is gearing up for Day Zero, a date in the future when it is expected to turn off its municipal water supply, which has dwindled to life-threatening levels after a prolonged drought.”
As abundant as it appears to be, only about 20% of the global population has access to running water. Additionally, only one-third of the world’s population has access to clean water. Moreover, economic development has placed greater pressure than ever on the supply of fresh water. In the United States alone, the demand for water has tripled in the past 30 years, far outpacing population growth.
China, Africa and the United States
The need to increase access to clean water around the world has led some to call water the “crude oil” of the 21st century. As the world becomes more and more developed, countries will have a moral obligation to provide this basic necessity to their citizens. Everyone likes to point to the strong economic growth of China and India, and for good reason. Well, with little in the way of a sophisticated water delivery system, both countries are pumping hundreds of billions of dollars in improvements to their water infrastructure.
Many sub-Saharan African countries that are beginning to show signs of strong economic growth will be forced to begin providing basic necessities to their public. In all three of these examples, we have huge populations that are in their infancy when it comes to providing for the basic needs of their citizens. They have been steeped in poverty for decades and only now are they emerging. As such, they need to start from scratch, which means among other things, access to water.
As for the US, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, “Capital investment needs for the nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems are estimated to total $298 billion over the next twenty years. In parts of the country, unmanaged stormwater threatens the vitality of rivers and streams, while jeopardizing population health and local economies. And much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life.”
Now is the time
For investors looking for an interesting investment theme, it may pay to spend some time doing your own research into water infrastructure and check out the long-term prospects.
As we say in the Adon Ha-Moshi’a Hoshana prayer, “Cause an abundance of crops, of trees, of vegetation – save. Do not condemn the ground, but sweeten the luscious fruits – save. Let the wind bring the soaring clouds, let the stormy winds be emplaced, let the clouds not be withheld, He who opens a hand and satisfies. Your thirsty ones – satisfy.”
May we be judged favorably this year, and may the rains we receive this season be rains of blessing.
Chag Sameach.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.
Aaron Katsman is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing.