I recently said that water will be the oil of the 21st Century and that private companies are increasingly buying rights to water. I even suggested you search the names of two French companies – Suez Lyonnaise des eaux and Vivendi Environnement – did you do that? No? Search now. I’ll wait.
You might have found that these two companies alone supply water to 230 million people around the world (and this includes the US). They have quietly assumed control over the water supplied to millions of people. Scary. Think about a future when every time you flush the toilet or turn on the tap/faucet, you are pouring profit into private water companies.
American readers: you may have heard of T.Boone Pickens – corporate raider and oilman – he owns more water than any other individual in the U.S. and is aiming to control more. And he is planning on selling 65 billion gallons a year to thirsty Americans. Have you heard of Dr William Turner and the WaterBank? Turner is from New Mexico and is a new breed of professional – an Internet water-rights broker – who lists water rights for sale or lease and trades in the water marketplace.
In most countries, the State owns the water resources. But the infrastructure to run the water supply (eg dams, filtration and supply systems, the charging process) is one more Government activity that is being increasingly run by private water utility companies who argue that they are cheaper and more efficient than public works.
Because I think this is such a serious issue, I am going to provide you with some stuff to read and follow up, so you can educate yourself. And think about how to secure your access to a basic human right – water.
- CBC News Canada report on water privatisation in South Africa
- in fact check out the whole series by CBC Canada on water privatisation
- US companies raid Aussie water
- The Center for Public Integrity’s in-depth investigation into the water barons
- The Jakarta Post – taking on the water barons
- World Economic Forum report that warns we will face water bankruptcy in less than 20 years
- World Vision report (audio) Water Wars
- World Water Wars– website for exchange of ideas and information about water privatisation and exploitation
- series of videos featuring Datta Desai and the protest over water privatisation in Maharashtra, India.
There are two interweaving factors at play here: the world is running out of fresh water, FAST and multinational companies and private individuals are spotting the opportunities to make a profit. You and I will not reap the benefits of these profits. No. We will be slugged with substantially increased water rates; contaminated water supplies; poor service delivery. Don’t believe me? Then read this and this. If you ask me, very soon “www” will not stand for World Wide Web. It will signify World Water Wars.