Water on the Brain

No, I do not have hydrocephalus; I am just thinking about one of life’s all-too-overlooked necessities – water.  Two Hydrogen molecules tethered to one Oxygen molecule is what drives the existence of life on Earth. Water allows plants to grow and animals (humans not exempted) to live. Water is what we wash ourselves with, wash our clothes with, and wash our cars with. Water is the standard for the search of life on other planets.  Perhaps, even more importantly, water is what we use to dissolve those Alka-seltzer tablets after a night of drinking.  What alarms me is that water is also fast becoming the new commodity that is filling the coffers of those in positions to either usurp its availability, or hoard it for its potential profitability.  I’m talking about water privatization, along with the wholesale profiteering of water, and it alarms me. It should alarm you, as well.

bottled water en masse

Thinking back to yesteryear (a word not red-flagged by my spell check), I do not recall walking into a grocery store or drug store and seeing an entire section for bottled and jugged water.  Nowadays, one of the first things a customer is confronted with is a giant cache of water-for-profit. Many times these heaps of containers are individually priced at rates 1,000 times higher than tap water, and many times, they are within arm’s reach of a free water fountain.  But what if that water fountain was not there, or it was coin operated?  What if in turning the faucet on at home, you were met by discolored, non-potable water?  What if in turning that very same faucet on at home, you were met by water that, if touched off by a match, could explode into flame?

flame water

Well, that last scenario is not an over the top, far-fetched, hypothetical one, it is actually happening in the United States as a possible side effect of a process known as ‘fracking.‘ Many who are reading this may have seen this topic covered in more depth in the Oscar nominated documentary, Gasland. While government officials in Colorado (which is not the only place this is happening) have ‘partially explained‘ this coincidence – that supposedly involves natural methane emissions – these events at the very least lend to the vulnerability of our water supply. ‘Fracking,’ however, is not the only issue at play here. According to the EPA, only 40% of our surveyed bodies of fresh water are suitable for swimming and fishing due to water pollution. In Texas, billionaire, and the United States’ largest landowner, T. Boone Pickens, has turned his focus from oil to water by investing more than $100,000,000 USD in water rights dealing with the Ogallala aquifer (which provides water to eight states, including NE, SD, WY, CO, KS, OK, NM, and TX).  Which, by taking advantage of lax Texan water laws, allows Pickens to corner one of the World’s largest reserves of fresh water.  Because of occurrences such as  ‘fracking,’ wanton water pollution, and billionaires buying it all up, I believe, water has become a commodity, to be bought and sold for profit.  What helps these water barons out the most is the fact that we are running out of it, and we all know the laws of supply and demand.

pickens

Water is a basic necessity of life, and as such, should be made available at a reasonable cost to all. Instead, under the guise of increased quality and availability of water, water is being gathered and distributed by private organizations in countries around the world. It becomes easy to see where this trend is heading in America, and all we have to do is look at some other examples of water privatization and its effects to see why this is a bad thing.  In Casablanca, Morocco, the per unit price of water became 300% of what is was prior to privatization.  In France, the story is the same with consumers paying 150% of non-privatized fees.  Monsanto corporation expected to make 63 million dollars from the sale of water to the people of India and Mexico in 2008, where privatization has replaced municipality.  Back in the days of its discovery, oil was, and is still, referred to as ‘black gold,’ and water is quickly becoming ‘blue oil.’

“Governments around the world must act now to declare water a fundamental human right and prevent efforts to privatize, export, and sell for profit a substance essential to all life. Research has shown that selling water on the open market only delivers it to wealthy cities and individuals. The finite sources of freshwater (less than one half of one per cent of the world’s total water stock) are being diverted, depleted, and polluted so fast that, by the year 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in a state of serious water deprivation.”

Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians

The next time you stop to stoop over a water fountain, think about what you are doing and what you used to take for granted.  Water is the source of life on Earth, and should be protected from profitability at the expense of its  reasonable availability. Support your municipal utilities if you have them, and oppose those who want to take away your affordable sources of water by monopolizing it under the banner of profit.  If nothing is done to stop the forces of planned drought, such as T. Boone Pickens, or water-hoarding companies such as Monsanto, the invitations for the next dinner party you receive may read “BYO H2O.”

For more information on the implications of water privatization, or just the topic in general click here, here, and here.
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