Climate Finance | August 26, 2020

Water deals flow amid droughts and storms

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Aug. 26Wildfires across California and twin storms headed for the Gulf Coast provide a harrowing backdrop for this year’s World Water Week.

Water-related threats – too little or too much – are intensifying as the planet warms. That is accelerating investor interest in water-related solutions, from wastewater treatment to access to clean water.

Water investments primed to flow in 2020

As much as $1.5 trillion a year in water and sanitation infrastructure investments will be needed by 2030, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Recent action

Water finance

Large water infrastructure projects have plenty of financing options; not so for projects under $50 million. That’s the market that Upwell Water LLC is targeting.

Last month, the San Francisco-based firm got a capital infusion from private equity firm Crestview Partners. The commitment, on top of previous investments from the 2040 Fund, brings Upwell’s total capital to $1 billion, making it one of the largest specialty water finance providers. Upwell’s first deal: $20 million in working capital and project finance facility for Fluence, a decentralized water and wastewater treatment solutions provider.

“We are big believers in the need for sustainable water infrastructure,”  Crestview’s Adam Klein told ImpactAlpha, adding the U.S. is “very far behind” in such investment.

No need to wait for Washington to mobilize around a ‘Green New Deal’

Separately, Detroit-based WaterWorks launched an investment marketplace for local water infrastructure projects and water-tech ventures

Water tech

Data, sensors and intelligence can save money for everybody from senior- living operators to textile manufacturers. Mazarine Ventures, an early-stage fund, has backed 10 companies, including Berkeley, Calif.-based Simple Lab, which connects companies and homeowners to water testing services. Mazarine Technology Investments, a second fund launching next month, will write checks of up to $3 million for companies addressing water across agriculture, real estate, industrial and municipal sectors.

“The world doesn’t have a water problem,” says Mazarine’s John Robinson. “It’s a policy problem.”

Stormwater management

StormSensor uses sensors and data analytics to help cities manage stormwater flooding and runoff. “The number and intensity of storms, and their floods, continue to increase with climate change, and we have a lot of work to do to build resilience into our communities,” founder Erin Rothman told the Milwaukee Business Journal. TitleTownTech, a Milwaukee innovation center created by Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers, is the company’s latest investor.

Water risk

Water scarcity is “a growing and underappreciated risk” across asset classes, with real estate, agriculture, electric power and food and beverage among the most at risk, warns BlackRock.

BlackRock leads Zero Mass Water’s $50 million round

The asset management firm in June led a $50 million Series C funding round for Scottsdale, Arizona-based Zero Mass Water, which is deploying rooftop panels that harvest drinking water from water vapor in the air in arid areas from Navajo Nation to the Middle East