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“Thirst”: Documentary on global resistance to water privatization

From PBS

The world is poised on the brink of epochal changes in how water is stored, used, and valued. Will these changes provide clean water to the billions of people who need it? Or save the child who dies every eight seconds from contaminated water? Examining water conflicts on three continents, "Thirst" shows that popular opposition to the privatization of water sparks remarkable coalitions that cross partisan lines. When it comes to water, many people demand local control and fear the arrival of multinational corporations with large lobbying budgets and little local loyalty.

The battle to stop water privatization is worldwide, and is happening in US cities as well as in the third-world.

The website for the movie, ThirstTheMovie.org, sums it up in one sentence.

Is water a human right or a commodity to be bought and sold in a global marketplace?

Unless you believe multinational corporations will altruistically put the needs of water consumers before their lust for profits (in which case I have a nice bridge for sale) then it behooves us all to keep water in public hands and out of their grasping little hands.

Macedonia: Water Wars?

Was Macedonia’s civil war of 2001 provoked merely by the stated desire of the Albanian insurgents for more civil rights, or for their alleged desire to hack off the western part of that country? Was it merely a matter of ethnic hatreds, or were other strategic interests involved?

A few years ago, Sam Vaknin painted a general picture of the emerging water crisis around the world and how future conflicts might be at least surreptitiously shaped by rich nations’ common need to acquire and control water supply as lakes and rivers dry up or become salinated. In this context, the Macedonian conflict takes on new dimensions.

Here’s a crucial point.

It also seems likely that Macedonia’s "frozen conflict" will have to thaw out someday, with control of the ensuing flow being an item of top importance for the enemy sides. The stakes will be high, not only for Macedonia’s inhabitants but for international investors from high-water usage industries, who will be eager to be on the winning side.

AKA water privatization. Grab the water, then sell it to the highest bidder. I’m guessing international water speculators will not have the needs of Macedonians uppermost in their minds.

British Columbia says no to water privatization

Three-quarters of British Columbians oppose privatization of drinking water.

71% trust their community’s local government more than the private sector to provide safe drinking water.

Almost nine-in-ten (88%) agree with the statement that "water is a basic public service and should always remain in public hands."

"On Vancouver Island, where there are serious threats to public water, this should be an issue in the November 19 municipal and regional district elections" said Barry O’Neill, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who are campaigning to stop water privatization.

Bluegrass FLOW. For Local Ownership of Water

Lexington Kentucky wants to buy back their water company from German conglomerate RWE. The courts just ruled against a vote on this based on a technicality. Bluegrass FLOW continues to fight for Lexington to own their water. They document how the current private ownership has, among other things, resulted in billing errors and lost revenue for the city.

Bluegrass FLOW 

And it’s going on in Pennsylvania too. 

Water battle heading to arbitration

Lehigh County, two townships oppose sale to Pennsylvania Aqua.

The fight to keep a local water company away from water-giant Aqua Pennsylvania Inc. will be assigned to an arbitrator this week as a result of protests filed by several municipalities and more than 200 customers. 

It’s clear. The people want public ownership of their water.

Bolivia’s War Over Water


The Bolivian Water Revolt In early April the often-forgot country of Bolivia, tucked away in he Andes, grabbed the world’s attention when the city of Cochabamba erupted in a public uprising over water prices. In 1999, following World Bank advice, Bolivia granted a 40 year privatization lease to a subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation, giving it control over the water on which more than half a million people survive. Immediately the company doubled and tripled water rates for some of South America’s poorest families.

The people fought back and in a landmark battle defeated Bechtel, drove them out of the country, and took back control of the water. Their successful struggle has been an inspiration worldwide for those fighting for clean, low-priced water for all.

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