Leading experts in the water industry claim that water is the next oil. In next couple decades, we will see rampant population growth running headlong into waning water supply. The UN claims that 31 countries are now facing water scarcity issues while 1 billion lack access to clean drinking water. It’s not that the water is disappearing but that it is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, the cost of making water safe and clean is no small price. That said, self-interested profiteers are starting to invest in this visibly threatened water-economy to get rich quick. Transnational corporations are privatizing publicly owned water systems, buying water rights and promoting bottling water. While it does cost to clean and maintain water supply, is this really the place for corporations to make a profit off of a resource as essential as water? I definitely don’t think so.
As Americans, it is easy to avoid thinking about water issues because we seem less affected than developing countries. Perhaps this is true, but that doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to the likes of Vivendi, Nestle and Perrier who want to sell a public good in the US and beyond.
People have a connection with their land and the resources reaped from the land. I would argue that many wars are fought not over political ideologies but scarcity of resources. Privatizing water for profit establishes an unfortunate dynamic which promotes a world where profit is promoted before life, a world where everything and anything becomes a commodity.
I am not suggesting we forget that providing water to residents is not free. It costs money to pump water and provide it to residents. Public utility rate systems in some US metropolitan cities provide incentives to consumers to reduce water consumption, charging more or less depending on use. The point being, these public agencies are more interested in the public good and held to a standard by the federal government to provide safe drinking water. I cannot say that a private company would have the same motivations, seeing as how their primary interest is profit. Perhaps there is a middle way for public and private agencies to work together but in any event, water is life and should not be used as a source of profit.