The real problems arise when huge multinational companies recognise an opportunity to make a profit from the brewing global crisis surrounding this essential, depleting finite resource. 3 companies to be precise – Veolia, RWE/Thames, Suez, have slowly but surely bought the right to control the water in many countries across the world. Governments have allowed their public water supplies to be privatised, and the result is that control of much of the world’s water is in the hands of these businesses. The WTO declared water as a commodity and thereby the ‘right’ to have access to fresh water was put in the balance.
After privatisation service problems began to arise. There were no clear performance requirements or any guarantees for performance, and grass roots communities were obviously the first to suffer. Water rates invariably began to rise, with water meters installed in parts of Africa, which made clean water an absolute luxury, unattainable by most. In some African countries Coca-cola took went a step further still, selling their bottled water (Dasani) at a considerably higher price per litre than Coca-cola itself.
It has been clear to see that large companies are preparing to capitalise on the control of this commodity. Many will in fact make a profit from the dirty water that they are creating. Money is being pumped into expensive clean-up technologies and enormous desalination plants. If the time comes that we rely on sea water to meet our needs, the companies that are in a position to provide it will have full control over our access. They will own the water.
Governments have been mapping areas of the world that they expect to suffer the most as our water supply depletes. Strangely rich political families are starting to purchase areas of land in Latin American countries that are blessed with abundant fresh water. Canada is also feeling the pressure. Military bases are beginning to crop up close to these water rich areas. It feels suspiciously like those at the top of the chain are preparing for war.
So What Can We Do?
Thankfully, there is always something that we can do! Once again, it will depend on us, the public, coming together in unity. The corporations are not invincible, politicians are not safe either. Mayors that have taken bribes to privatise water in their cities are being taken down. Huge multinationals are losing small battles with local people over individual lakes and the momentum is growing.
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