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The Business of Water: Privatizing An Essential Resource

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Food & Water Watch advocates for economic and environmental sustainability through research, the media, public outreach and education, including lobbying for safe, wholesome food as well as public control of groundwater, oceans, lakes and rivers.

In February 2009, it published a report titled, "Money Down the Drain: How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources." It covers corporate efforts to convince cash-starved communities to privatize their water and wastewater systems, saying it's how to raise vital revenue, be more efficient, and the best way to upgrade facilities at low cost. The facts prove otherwise:

-- because of financing costs, taxes, high executive pay, expected profits, and numerous other factors, privatization is expensive and irresponsible;

-- private utilities charge up to 80% more for water and 100% more for sewer service;

-- costs are contained by downsizing workforces, destroying unions, relying on cheap labor, using shoddy construction materials, deferring maintenance, and backlogging service requests to focus all efforts on profits.

Cities belatedly learn that public control delivers better, cheaper, faster, more reliable service and happier customers. Food & Water Watch concluded that:

Privatization is not a sustainable model or a way to rejuvenate community water systems. "From high costs and inefficiency to unaccountable and irresponsible operators, a deluge of problems has swamped communities that turned to the private sector. Corporations prioritize earnings over quality, and stockholders over consumers. They seek good returns by cutting corners, neglecting maintenance and hiking rates."

Privatization is the problem, not the solution to protect our valuable water resources and distribute them equitably to everyone at a reasonable cost. "Public money for public utilities is the best way....to ensure clean, safe and affordable water for generations to come." It also preserves higher paying jobs and the right of workers to organize. Irresponsible profiteers operate otherwise.

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Social activist Maude Barlow chairs the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest citizens organization advocating for numerous economic and social issues, including Canadian independence, progressive policies, energy security, and publicly controlled clean water.

She explains that future peace or peril depends on whether water is commodified or a public good, saying dwindling freshwater supplies, inequitable access, and corporate control "have created a life-or-death situation across the planet."

Schemes to shift water from one ecosystem to another for profit are a human rights and environmental nightmare. Private solutions are the problem, not the solution to equitable distribution, conservation, and sustainability.

However, American and Canadian governments have other ideas, having "decided that water is not a public good but a private resource that must be secured by whatever means" to control who gets it, at what price, and who doesn't. These countries lead efforts to block international attempts to recognize water as a human right.

In a July 2007 article titled, "The Militarization and Annexation of North America," this writer discussed one way - by integrating America, Canada and Mexico through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), or North American Union.

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Launched in March 2005, it's for greater US, Canadian and Mexican economic, political, social, and security integration with secretive working groups devising binding agreements legislatures can't change.

If achieved, it will militarily enforce a corporate coup d'etat against the sovereignty of three nations, their people and legislative bodies, the idea being a US-controlled North America with no trade or capital flow barriers. Especially key will be America's unlimited access to Canadian and Mexican resources, mainly oil from both countries and Canadian water.

Efforts paused during the Bush to Obama transition, but deep integration plans remain, the grand goal being a single global marketplace under a one world government and much more, including ending social justice and democratic rule, a very ugly future if achieved.

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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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