Venture Capitalists Fight Over Water

Water is essential to human life and to corporate life; great supplies of clean water are needed in many industrial processes. If the investments of a famous Texas oil man are any indicator, the fight over water is just getting started.

T. Boone Pickens is a member of the Forbes 400 with an estimated net worth of over $2.7 billion. His fortune is based on oil and gas. Where is he placing his investments now?

Water rights. His new company, Mesa Water, has been buying up ground water rights in Roberts County, Texas - 200,000 acres in all. He says that over a 30-year period, he expects to make more than $1 billion on his investment of $75 million. Pickens wants to take the water from the Ogallala Aquifer and pump about 200,000 acre feet of groundwater annually to El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio, or Dallas-Fort Worth - for a price, of course.


(Water rights cost)

Pickens has no qualms about charging people for water and has a ready quip for those who think it wrong to do so. “I know what people say - water’s a lot like air. Do you charge for air? ’Course not; you shouldn’t charge for water,” says he. “Well, OK, watch what happens. You won’t have any water.”

Of course, Pickens is right. Many others are coming to the realization that water is too cheap. Hence, water rights are a great buy today.

Science fiction fans may recal Tank Girl, a dystopian film set in 2033. Water is scarce and a corporate monopoly, Water & Power, controls it. Outlaw groups seek to become "water-independent" by trying to sink a well in the basement of a house.

Read more in T. Boone Pickens invests in water and Water is the new oil; thanks to Moira for pointing this story out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/6/2008)

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