Water- A Paradox of Value

Water is life. It nourishes, it cleans and sustains. It keeps our communities healthy, our cities running and our economies growing. It is the thread that weaves together our daily lives. Water is a cup of tea, the vegetable market, the increase in exports and the strength of the nation. Water is essential, and invaluable.

Water is the engine that drives civilizations and economies.  We rely on it for agriculture, sustenance, manufacturing and energy. Valuing water is valuing our sustainable future.

Then, why is water so undervalued?

Plato argued that scarcity gives a resource its value: “Only what is rare is valuable, and water which is the best of all things… is also the cheapest.” Adam Smith coined the Diamond-Water paradox: “Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarcely anything; scarcely anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarcely any use-value; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.”

70% of the Earth is water. A fraction of this, is fresh water which is suitable for human use.  If you poured all the world’s water in a bathtub, less than a tablespoon of it would be fresh and available for use.

People use water indiscriminately because it is grossly undervalued.  As a consequence, there is no incentive for responsible use of water.  A fair value of water will make us responsible about water and thus our future.

Israel as a country, has demonstrated that a fair value and objective understanding of water leads to responsible use of water.  It provides equitable access to water and spurts a host of innovations which drive the economic growth.

What is a fair value for water you are willing to pay for sustainable water?  What innovations would you drive for sustainable water?  How would you provide water access to all?

Do share your thoughts.

Smaart Water strives to provide sustainable water for all.  Reach out to us for your sustainable water needs.

Heeta Lakhani and Ravi Mariwala