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The Business of Water: Privatizing An Essential Resource

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(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 nations.

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.

People Advocates

The People's Water Forum (WWF) advocates for global water justice, calling it a "basic element of all life (and) a fundamental and inalienable human right." It rejects all forms of privatization, demanding water be "public, social, cooperative, participatory, equitable, and not for profit." It calls for "the democratic and sustainable management of ecosystems and the preservation of the water cycle through the protection and proper management of watersheds and environment." It says commodifying water harms the world's poor, and wants privatized utilities reclaimed for equitable public use.

Some Key Water Facts

Available in lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers, freshwater is scarce, comprising only 0.008% of the global total. It's unevenly distributed. Around 90% of what's drinkable is groundwater. About 70% is locked in ice caps, less than 1% readily available. The Great Lakes contain about 84% of North America's surface fresh water and 21% of the world's supply. About 13% is in Brazil. Other water rich countries include Canada, Russia, China, Indonesia and Colombia.

One-third of the world's population lives in "water-stressed" countries. Over two-thirds have no access to clean water, and an estimated 25,000 people die daily as a result. The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes contaminated water to 80% of all sickness and disease worldwide. In the last decade alone, the number of children killed by avoidable diarrhea illnesses exceeded the death toll from all armed conflicts since WW II. Every eight seconds, a child dies from contaminated water.

More freshwater is stored in the ground than in liquid form on the surface. Scientists have discovered a vast water reservoir beneath East Asia, at least the equivalent of the Arctic Ocean, so far untapped. Up to now, no shortages exist, but overuse, pollution, and waste will create them. Water is limited, exhaustible when poorly managed, and there's no substitute.

Irrigation consumes the most because agribusiness uses ten times what comparable ecological farming needs. Much of what's available is lost through pollution, overuse, and waste. Conservation and keeping it out of corporate hands is vital to human health, well-being, and sustainability.

One Report Highlights Privatization Dangers

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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I live near the Toledo ,Ohio area and in the city ... by liberalsrock on Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 at 6:07:29 PM
To gain a better understanding of the global impli... by Richmond Shreve on Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010 at 8:40:47 PM