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Water Services to Hit $1 Trillion Sales by 2020, Report Says

The global water services industry is on pace to double its annual revenues to $1 trillion by 2020 largely driven by scarcity issues and growing demand for water treatment, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch global research report.

“A Blue Revolution – Global Water,” which is based on views of 35 analysts covering 60 companies from 18 countries, found demand for water will outstrip supply 40 percent by 2030 and close to half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Water supplies will be increasingly tapped by agriculture, housing and industry, according to the report.

Unless more sustainable water management practices are adopted, 45 percent of projected 2050 global GDP at 2000 prices could be at risk, the equivalent of $63 trillion, the report said.

Growing demand for an increasingly scarce resource will create opportunities in water treatment, water management and water infrastructure, BofA said. For example, desalination could emerge as a $25 billion industry by 2025. Effective water management will enable users to cut consumption and mitigate the risks associated with shortages as well as reduce the need for capital-intensive projects.

The report says developed markets need to replace incomplete and deteriorating infrastructure while emerging markets need to build it for the first time. BofA estimates annual water investment needs will rise to more than $770 billion for OECD members, which include the US, Canada, Australia and countries in the EU, and BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Water-related challenges, such as drought, poor quality and flooding, have already negatively affected 53 percent of the world’s largest listed companies in the past five years, up from 38 percent reporting such effects in the previous year, yet there’s been no increase in the number of corporations providing water-related risk assessments to investors, according a report released in October by the Carbon Disclosure Project.

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