Water -- is it worth more than oil? Well, you can't drink oil. You can't live without water, but oil -- you might be able to survive without it. You can't farm or grow crops without water. You can't survive as a town or city without water.
We at Boothe Global Perspectives have repeatedly written and reported on water issues as we observe and travel this globe. Thousands of lakes and rivers have gone essentially dry, especially in the the American West and Southwest. But it is also 0f note that water is a huge issue in Europe, Latin America and Asia. The demand for water is beginning to outstrip supply in many areas around the world. Note the following graphic from the Washington Post on water demand:
The darker the colored areas, the more water demand, or the greater stress on water supplies.
Some of these areas are depleting their underground and surface water supplies.
You might be surprised to see that the state that has the highest water stress, or demand for water vs the supply, is New Mexico. Next we see West Texas, where oil drilling and agriculture are pumping water by the millions of gallons. Look at the water map showing huge water stress in Colorado, California and Arizona. The old phrase "That town is drying up" is taking on new relevance.
Demand for irrigation and for oil and gas fracking seem to be the "water hogs" that are using the most water.
Of interest, if you believe in supply and demand, the price of water is rising steadily. In fact, some oil companies are buying water rights or water resources of land, farms and ranches and then building water pipelines to oil and gas production areas.
We are familiar with two ranch properties in New Mexico that sold ranch assets to oil and gas drilling interests on about 120,000 acres of land, primarily for the water rights. We understand that the total price exceeded $1 million.
So water is becoming big business, and we may well see the day when households, businesses, farmers and the general population finds that the concept that water is free is obsolete. I recall 30+ years ago we drilled a 200 ft well on 13 acres on the west side of Fort Worth. The well cost $5,000 to drill. It was a great day, we celebrated when our "free water" poured out of that well for the first time. We built a home there. A few weeks ago I was visiting with a landowner in Northern New Mexico, and he was going to have to drill a water well on a property, I asked him what it would cost, he said: "They quoted me $145,000 to $200,000" he said. His well was going to cost what my new home had cost to build three decades ago in Texas. No, water, is no longer a "free" commodity. Those days of cheap water bills from your local city or county will be gone one day.
But see the following graphic (credit again to the Washington Post for their good reporting on this).
This chart shows the states in the USA that are of the highest risk of depleting water tables and water resources. We must all be grateful that in 2019 we had higher than average rain and precipitation that gave temporary relief from the long-term droughts that Texas, New Mexico and the Southwest have experienced. But notice the states at the highest risk. Remember, when water is gone, towns die. Farming and ranching are stressed. Industry suffers. Oil and gas production become harder and more expensive. Entire economies suffer when water depletes, not to mention the devastation and damage to wildlife, vegetation, forestry and the environment.
The phrase, "That town just dried up" is becoming more relevant. When a town or a business or an area runs out of water, property values go down. See our sister company in this link: Appraisers We not only value land, buildings, farms and ranches, we appraise water and water rights and have found that many farmers and ranchers have stopped growing crops or cattle and are "pumping" water and selling it to cities and companies and piping the water to those in need. "Water depletion lowers property values" is a basic and truthful statement.
But it is not just a problem in the USA. Look at the next exhibit and we can see that water is an international issue.
We point out that there are solutions. Ninety five percent of the underground water may be brackish or saline. In that case, we at BBAR Inc. have done extensive research on how to convert brackish or saline water to potable water, or water appropriate for drinking or for use in agriculture. The greatest cost in desalinization is electricity to run the equipment to boil or filter the water salts out. But BBAR Inc. has developed a plan to help communities and areas utilize wind and solar power to provide the electricity to desalinate the ocean of salt water below the surface.
This has up-front costs, but can ultimately (if our system is used) yield potable water at about 50 percent of the cost of traditional water company systems of most municipalities. The lower cost of the water can recoup the costs over a few years, and become a profit center for many cities.
Water, don't waste it. We can help you with the creation of a long-term solution. Don't wait until your town or industry dries up.
Ben Boothe, President
Call us: 817 793 1484
Ben Boothe, President of the Boothe Companies, is available to speak in pubic presentations to groups, conventions and association meetings on water issues. We also offer private consultations.
Call to book him if you have a budget for professional presentation with challenges and solutions.
"One of the best speakers on a subject more relevant every year. Funny, informative and powerful." Jim Wright, Former Speaker of the House