The Wars of the Future Will be Fought Over Water

7 Mar 2009

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In the clip above, Amy Goodman talks to Maude Barlow about the global water crisis and examines the documentary film "FLOW - for love of water", a film about how the privatization of water is diminishing the world's supply of water.

Barlow is the head of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization, and founder of the Blue Planet Project.

In a later interview, Goodman talks to Barlow again as well as Irena Salina, the producer of the movie FLOW.

Some critical issues that emerge from both interviews are captured below.

The world is running out of water. This is not cyclical drought; it is the end of water. The question about who owns water and who makes decisions about water is becoming very important.

There are corporate interests that have decided that water will be put on the open market for sale. Water is going to be commodified and treated like any other sale-able good.

Water is now a US$400 billion global industry. The third largest behind electricity and oil.

But, the market is amoral. It is going to lead companies to taking advantage of pollution and to selling to 'clean water' to those who can buy it and not to those who need it.

The demand for water is growing while the supply is decreasing and every drop of water in the future is going to be corporately owned.

What's happening is that a large number of corporations are entering the scene and creating a kind of global water cartel, similar to the oil cartels.

These companies are big utility companies like Veolia and Suez from Europe that run municipal water systems. In the Third World, these companies deny millions of people who can't afford to pay for water.

The newest corporate player on the block is the water "re-use" and "re-cycling" company. The biggest water company in the world right now is probably General Electric.

Then there's also bottled water.

Bottled water is a corporate take over. It makes people think that what comes out of their taps doesn't matter. This will lead to people not prioritizing paying their taxes for infrastructure repair, which is extremely important for the future of clean, accessible, safe public water.

Bottled water pollutes through massive amounts of plastic and massive amounts of energy used in the creation and transportation of water and it is also quite poisonous. The plastic itself leaves chemicals in the water that is bottled.

Something like 50 billion liters of water was put into plastic bottles in 2007. The non-biodegradable plastic bottles are also dumped all over the place and in landfills.

Bottled water is where Coke and Pepsi are making big money now because there is a real move by parents and schools against sugar water (soft drinks), so they are saying that the new beverage of choice is bottled water.

Coke and Pepsi are under a great deal of criticism around the world. They are trying very hard to build their name through things like giving money to schools, through building pipes in Africa so poor people can access water. But the real story about them is that they go into communities around the world with Nestle, the other big bottle water conglomerate and just remove people's water rights.

Corporations are also doing something that can be described as virtual water trade, which is where domestic water is used to grow or produce something that is then exported. In the United States, a third of domestic water is exported out of the country. This water is exported mainly by large agro-business.

Australia also exports its water and it has now hit the water wall. Australia is absolutely in crisis right now, but is still exporting massive amounts of water through virtual water sales to China.

To watch the official trailer of the movie FLOW, please click here.

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