The Business of Water: Privatizing An Essential Resource

by Stephen Lendman / March 10th, 2010

In her 2002 book titled, Water Wars, noted author, social activist, and ecologist Vandana Shiva called privatizing water:

  • ecological terrorism;
  • a global water crisis; 
  • along with overuse, waste and pollution, it can cause “the most
    pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological
    devastation of the earth;”
  • the road to “an ecological crisis with commercial causes but no
    market solutions; (they) destroy the earth and aggravate inequality;
    the solution to an ecological crisis is ecological, and the solution
    for injustice is democracy;” and
  • water rights are natural and “usufructuary….water can be used but
    not owned;” it belongs to everyone as part of the commons as an
    essential “basis of all life….under customary laws, the right to water
    has been accepted as a natural, social fact.”

Shiva lists nine water democracy principles:

(1) it’s nature’s gift;
(2) it’s essential to life;
(3) “life is interconnected through water;”
(4) it must be free “for sustenance needs;”
(5) it’s limited and exhaustible;
(6) it must be conserved;
(7) it’s a commons;
(8) “no one has a right to overuse, abuse, waste, pollute,” or own it;
it belongs to everyone; it can’t be treated as a commodity; and,
(9) there’s no substitute.

Corporate profiteers have other ideas and, since 1997, have met
triennially at the World Water Forum (WWF) to discuss privatizing water
globally in coordination with the World Water Council (WWC). It’s
dominated by two of the world’s largest water companies, Suez and
Veolia, as well as the World Bank, other financial interests, UN
bodies, and powerful interest groups representing business and world

WWC’s agenda is profits through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)
wanting to privatize global water resources, sell them to the highest
bidder, promote destructive dam and water diversion projects, extort
high prices, and make an element of life available only to those who
can afford it.

Their scheme involves controlling city/municipal/community
distribution as well as stealing public water, bottling it, selling it
at exorbitant prices, and claiming it’s pure when, in fact, it’s no
safer than tap water.

In fact, a 1990s four year National Resources Defense Council study
on the bottled water industry found “major gaps in bottled water
regulation and conclude(d) that bottled water is not necessarily safer
than tap water.” Using independent labs, it tested over 1,000 bottles
of 103 brands and found:

– one-third contained “significant contamination (i.e. levels of
chemical or bacterial contaminants exceeding those allowed under a
state or industry standard or guideline);” and

– contaminants found in some but not all samples tested included
excessive coliform bacteria, synthetic organic compounds (such as
toluene, xylene, styrene and others), flouride, phthalate, arsenic,
nitrates, and other inorganic contaminants.

It’s no wonder, given the weakness of federal standards and little regulatory oversight.                                                More…………………………….

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