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Privatization of Water Supplies Might Limit Fundamental Human Rights

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califolsomlakewatercompare_largeFor many of us, availability of clean fresh water is a given. It is quite often difficult to comprehend how it could this ever be a problem, when all we have to do is turn on the tap, and voila, the liquid gold flows out of it.

But the recent drought in California, which left many without drinking water for more than two months now, raised quite a number of additional questions that were somehow neglected before because the problem was not in “our backyard.”

One particular issue is the privatization of water supplies by major corporate giants such as Nestle and Coca-Cola, who claim to be running water conservation strategies. Their opposition, however, is convinced that the companies leave communities in a very vulnerable position only to boost their own profit.

There are two sides of every story, and when it comes to matters concerning the environment, we always seem to have the usual suspects- the activists, and the business, with governments standing in between as “unbiased” referees. I guess, for one reason or another, everyone picks a side here, and rightly so. In the current case regarding fresh water, on one hand we have the major companies, who completely rely on the precious resource for their business to run, while on the other hand we have the activists, who claim that these companies are taking away the right of people to have free access to drinking water.

The discussion is nowhere near its end, especially since we can only expect worsening of the situation as climate change becomes more and more apparent. What makes it worse is that both parties involved in the discussion have very valid points. For some, water is a fundamental right, and any attempt to close off a water reservoir for whatever purpose is considered wrong. But we also have to keep in mind that many of these reservoirs are poorly managed and therefore highly polluted and by allowing them to be privatized, we might actually save them.

In any case, one thing is true. Many of us are simply careless. Just because we have the luxury to indulge on running water from the tap whenever we want it, and frankly be charged very little for it, we tend to forget that the resource is precious and we should really try to be smart about it and reuse it or minimize waste as much as we can.

So, are Coca-cola and Nestle really doing it all wrong and using up our precious resource for their own benefit? Well, in my opinion, it could be much worse. At least these guys are bottling it and giving it back to us, while often bad agricultural practices, or different gas and oil extraction methods use up and waste a lot more. But it is up to each of us to make their on conclusion.

Image (c) California Department of Water Resources

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