California's new gold rush

During the past four years, California’s drought has deepened to the point that onerous water restrictions have been passed that will have a negative effect on that state’s economic growth. Governor Jerry Brown has called for statewide water restrictions reducing water consumption up to 25%. Currently, climatologists say we’re headed for Part II of “The Dirty Thirties” after what experts referred to as the Dust Bowl era (see Dry, drier, driest”).  

Now, the conservation calls are getting much louder as the state’s water regulators have approved “unprecedented” measures aimed at curtailing the crisis. Recently, AP reported, “The California Water Resources Control Board approved rules that force cities to limit watering on public property, encourage homeowners to let their lawns die and imposed mandatory water-savings targets for the hundreds of local agencies and cities that supply water to California customers.” 

Previous volunteer measures did not produce change as water usage only dropped by a few percent. Under the new rules, each city is ordered to cut water use by as much as 36% according to the AP. 

The LA Times reports that California will begin cracking down on “wasters” via the imposition of stiff fines as millions of trees die out in National Forests, raising the risk of wildfires. Years of extremely dry conditions are taking a heavy toll on forest lands across California and heightening the fire risk as summer approaches. “The situation is incendiary,” William Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Times.  

A new study by the U.S. Forest Service estimated that the drought has killed at least 12.5 million trees in California’s national forests. Scientists expect the die-off to continue. “It is almost certain that millions more trees will die over the course of the upcoming summer as the drought situation becomes ever more long term,” said biologist Jeffrey Moore, acting regional aerial survey program manager for the U.S. Forest Service.

There is one company that is ahead of most other companies in providing solutions to this problem. That company is STW Resources (STWS), an integrated provider of water management, including water reclamation and remediation and oilfield services. STWS revenue grew to $18.9 million in 2014 from $1.9 million in 2013.  

With approximately 31.68 million shares outstanding, the market cap is a modest $18.6 million.

STWS’ management team consists of Alan Murphy, Daryl Byrer, Varkha Agrawal and Stanley Weiner — all season professionals who know all aspects of the water business: water remediation and reclamation, water desalination, Water station construction and water distribution. 

The company is ramping up marketing of its licensed proprietary technology, “Salttech,” which converts all forms of dirty brackish water, including ocean water, to 97% potable water. Additionally, they will use their IT Venture partners to capitalize on “Toilet to Tap” technologies that are available to re-use or recycle existing waste water for consumption. 

In May STWS demonstrated its revolutionary desalination technology to Texas legislators and Texas municipal authorities seeking solutions to the water shortages across the state. They also are going to monetize their land lease on the Capitan Reef Aquifer to distribute more than 100 million gallons a day in what is becoming known as The West Texas Water Project. 

STWS seeks to provide alternative water supplies through water reclamation solutions that are economically viable and environmentally friendly. 

STW Resources is poised to capitalize on the well-documented challenges the U.S. West is experiencing with the drought and has laid the foundation for continued growth in a hot industry. STWS is worth watching.

About the Author

Tim Fligg has been a professional trader for more than15 years. He has been profiled in Futures and currently is a proprietary trader focusing on equities, options and futures.