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The Uncertain Road Ahead
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The Uncertain Road Ahead

For all of the uncertainty in today’s economic and social landscape, change remains the only constant. Many of the questions that greeted the watershaping industry at the beginning of last year have remained in place, including whether or not the industry, and the greater economy is headed into deeper water. 

By Eric Herman

At the dawn of this New Year, the watershaping industry continues to grapple with quite the mixed bag of market conditions. Questions about the sustainability of the ongoing demand and the impact of shifting economic tides continue to loom large. Yet even despite the economic headwinds, the demand has remained reasonably strong.

As is always the case, the industry is largely tied to the fate of the housing market, where this past year saw a major shift. We know without question that the red-hot demand and soaring prices that defined the pandemic era has cooled dramatically, driven largely by rising interest rates. What remains to be seen is whether or not that cooling trend will amount to a bursting bubble, or will the trend lines be less traumatic?

So far, the impact on watershaping reportedly has been marginal with builders still trying to catch up on backlogs that grew so dramatically during the pandemic. How long the pipeline will be full is anyone’s guess, as is the long-term impact of housing market trends on new projects.

Atop that certainly are remaining supply issues, labor shortages and skyrocketing infation.


Of course, our industry is always, it seems, at the mercy of the weather. At this writing, another atmospheric river is slamming into much of California, filling depleted reservoirs and deepening the all-important snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. While certainly an encouraging sign given the past several years of extreme drought, it’s impossible to know if we’ll truly turn the corner on the multitude of water supply issues that have impacted much of the western U.S.

While everyone is thrilled to see drought conditions lessen, we’ve been here before. It’s easy to forget how desperate the situation has been in recent years once water levels begin to rise. Many of us thought we were out of trouble when a series of storms drenched the west at the end of 2021. Only time will tell whether or not the drought will persist.

At the same time, record cold and flooding across much of the East, Midwest and South have posed a different set of hurdles, challenging watershape service professionals to keep pace with damage resulting from the foul weather.

When you toss in global economic and political uncertainty, continued inflation especially stubbornly high energy costs, the list of potentially troubling factors remains longer than most of us would like. On the other hand, in the past few years, we’ve seen just how powerful and enduring the demand for our industry’s product can be, especially among high-end clientele.

Data supporting the benefits of an aquatic lifestyle continues to mount, all while the value of properties with pools or those situated near large bodies of water continue to outperform those without the presence of water. Clearly the desire for water remains hardwired in the hearts and minds of consumers across the spectrum.

When you add it all up, and shake vigorously, the mix of optimism and cause for concern creates a picture defined by its contrasts. How it all plays out over the uncertain road ahead will be interesting, to say the least.  

Graphic by MNStudio | Shutterstock

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