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When Water is Clear, So Are the Profits

It’s ironic that the images of flooding in the mid-west are accompanied by stories about government agencies pleading with people in those hard-hit areas to conserve water, because the floods have contaminated drinking water supplies. The recent salmonella poisoning of over 300 people in the US from tainted tomatoes can also be traced to polluted water used for irrigation (add to that the e-coli outbreaks from tainted irrigation water used on spinach and other row crops in the past 2 years). OK, so I’m a broken drum, constantly beating everyone with “what’s good for the environment is good for the economy.” But it’s a hard theme to ignore when the examples are so abundant—and when we are in such desperate need of improvements in both these days. Click here to read this article by James Flanagan about how clean water is a rapidly growing and profitable business. Most people think of clean water in terms of drinking and irrigation water supplies, but clean water is also necessary for many of the high-tech industrial processes that deliver hydrogen to fuel cells and process water for making solar panels, to name a few applications. Clean water will be a growth industry for some time to come, but shrewd cleantech investors are looking into it as a boom sector of the near term too. Of course pollution prevention is an even better investment for both the environment and the economy, especially when it comes to water. I saw a demo last week of an amazing technology by a company called AbTech Industries where heavily polluted water was pumped into a stormwater treatment system and the clean water emerged from the other side - - 99% of the bacteria removed, along with the oils and sediments. Now that’s cleantech! The poet said “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…”. Smart cleantech companies are changing that adage in a hurry, making both clear water and clear profits! ---------- Terry Tamminen is author of Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction. You can visit him at