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Putting A Price On Water

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When you turn on the tap and water comes out, there’s a tendency to think it’s free.

But increasingly, there’s a push to recognize water as the precious commodity it is, by putting a higher price on it. 

Water as the oil of the 21st Century was the headline on an event in Seattle put on by the Clean Tech Alliance.     

Carey Gersten is an energy entrepreneur and a regular at these breakfast panels.  He says this one struck a chord.

“The reason why is, water is essential to us. Without water, we don’t have life,” Gersten said.

He says the statistics presented during the panel about world water markets made him realize how much of it water is wasted in some places -- and recycled in others.  

“That countries like Israel are reclaiming 80-90% and reusing it and other places not at all,” Gersten said. “And there’s a lot that can be done, but we’re not doing it. And we have to wake up.”

That’s why it makes even more sense to him now that California Governor Jerry Brown has imposed mandatory water restrictions.

People like Gersten - who found and build start up companies - see opportunities in the looming crisis. They could make money everything from desalination technology to new pipelines and other infrastructure.

Analysts say the emerging markets could be worth trillions in the coming decades. 

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.