For the love of Water

Posted on February 12, 2009, a guest post by Kurt Archer

Often in conversation you may hear comments about growing water shortages, or the fact that bottled water is no better than tap water.  Of course both of these are true, however the depth of this situation is far graver than we imagine it to be. What seems to miss the media’s attention is the massive protests that are led in against water giants like Nestle, Coca-Cola, Suez, Vivendi and others. All over the world, water privatization is on the increase, and at what cost?

The building of dams around the world have displaced millions of people in the 20th century. Water ways, aquafers, and natural irrigation channels are being dried up or pumped into plastic bottles and sold to us. That is like someone coming into your home, stealing your most prized family heirloom, wrapping it in a nice package and selling it back to you at 10x the price you paid for it in the first place.

Is it so hard to keep water healthy and accessible to everyone? It seems that more and more politicians are failing to stand up for what should be their jobs - to protect the basic security of citizens! There certainly is nothing more basic than water.

I just finished watching “FLOW: For love of water“. A documentary featured directed by Irena Salina. The movie takes a traditional documentary look at the perspective of water, as a free right for citizens, as free as the air and sun is. It exposes the multinational corporations who are exploiting people and creating scenarios of poverty and dependence on their product (which is really your product only it was extracted from your backyard and bottled).

The film also explores local heros and success stories for local communities winning out against the exploitation of their water sources. Most notably the case in Bolivia in 2005 when water was given as a right back to the public.  Now I know thoughts of James Bond: Quantum of Solace come to mind here, but the truth is, companies with similar agendas do exist, and we all buy their products on a regular basis.

I liked how the movie is used as a platform to encourage the UN to adopt a new article, known as Article 31.

Article 31: Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.

This article would ensure governments comply with this basic human right. I would argue that the right should be extended to all living organisms, however this is an important first step. Follow this link if you want to sign the petition yourself.

In local news, a Calgary based NGO has been making waves across the world in their battle for affordable water and sanitation. CAWST (Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology) was founded in 2001 and has since impacted the lives of millions of people across 53 countries through awareness and simple water filtration technology.

Why has such a basic human need become such a controversial and complex issue?

I’d like to see some initiative in setting up community rain water harvesting schemes, greywater capture and filtration services (preferably as a means of irrigation rather than drinking consumption).