Not-so-free free toilets and water index on the rise

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A couple of things happened when I took advantage of the City of West Palm Beach’s High Efficiency Toilet Voucher Program. First, I learned that there’s more to a getting a free toilet than getting a free toilet. And second, who knew there was a water index and that it’s been on the rise for years.

I’ll begin with the toilet.

Call it a throne or crapper; WC or potty there’s no denying that toilets play a major part in everyone’s life every day of their lives. There aren’t too many man-made items that service the needs of every human being as much as a toilet.

That said, a toilet wouldn’t be a toilet if it weren’t for water. And the primary reason for this $125 free toilet voucher for qualifying WPB residents is to promote water conservation.

Incase you’ve had your head in the sand with respect to conserving water, there is no denying that that  liquid is vitally important to each of our individual lives and life on the planet Earth. Even though a quick glance of the globe shows water water nearly everywhere, right now finding a drop of it to drink is a challenge in a number of places on our planet.

According to a recent email from Energy and Capital, “Scientists estimate the total mass of the world’s water at 1.4 quintillion metric tonnes. But less than 1% of that is suitable for drinking.”

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Let me go back to toilets.

Who knew toilet shopping was as much art as it is a science? Or, that the size of seat has to fit the size of the space; that a new toilet has to fit the footprint of the one it’s replacing; and that there are decisions to make regarding price, brand, manner of flush, etc. etc. And that 125 bucks may buy a toilet but not a super-duper heated-seat wash-bottom computer operated one.

Then there are the costs of getting the toilet from Home Depot (which was the only place this free-toilet voucher could be used) home, getting it inside the house and up the stairs, the old toilet(s) removed, taken away and then the new one(s) put in place and secured by a plumber.

In the end, my free toilets (I got two) wound up costing me about $450. It would have been more had I decided to fancy-up my throne pick. But I didn’t.

Bigger, however, and more important for investors than my toilet tale, was discovering that there was a Dow Jones U.S. Water Index (DJUSWU). I came across it while researching water, toilets, etc., don’t ask how, and had no idea there was such a thing. Or that its performance was has been hard to top.

On Thursday, June 9, 2016, the DJUSWU index closed at 1797.48. Let’s call it 1800. That close is three times what it was in 2008, when it was around 600, or, in 2001 when the index was around 100.

I haven’t been able to find an  ETF representing only  that index, but a few weeks ago The Motley Fool published a piece that focused on investing in water stocks.

Two mentioned in the piece were American Water Works (AWK) with a 1-yr total return of 42.6 percent and 5-yr total return of 191 percent, and, Aqua America (WTR) with a 1-yr total return of 26.8 percent and 5-yr total return of 106 percent.

The S&P 500 over both of those same two time periods was 0.7 percent and 71.6 percent respectively, according to that same source.

No doubt about it, those two water stocks and the water index have had an  incredible run. There’s also no doubt about it that water is one of life’s necessities and to date, there is no substitute for it.

With that in mind, don’t flush the notion of some kind of water investment down the drain before you take the time to jump in and  research it.

The Motley Fool story is at:

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/18/3-best-stocks-to-invest-in-water.aspxoo

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