Water is the only commodity in the world that is essential for life and unsubstitutable at any price. Nevertheless, the earth’s freshwater supply is now facing a “perfect storm” of secular trends, including a rising population that is:
i. migrating to the most arid parts of the world;
ii. consumes increasingly water-intensive goods, and is
iii. polluting at an unprecedented rate
The supply/demand imbalance is evidenced in 29 out of the largest 32 freshwater aquifers in the world being depleted faster that they are replenished. Because the supply of rain is fixed, the world’s rising water demand has led to “a rush to drill” for many aquifers, with more wells and deeper pumping each year until some wells are completely tapped out.
Thus, we are unsubstainably “borrowing” water from reserves that may have taken thousands of years to accumulate, and others that were formed as a “one-off” during the ice age or with shifts in tectonic plates.