Who Owns The Water?

With their insatiable desire for profit, corporations globally are going too far regarding infringing on a resource that is not their own. What gives a corporation the right to come into any state and take the ground water and use it to make a profit for themselves by selling it elsewhere? A resource that is a fundamental human right? This will happen more and more in the United States as water resources become more depleted elsewhere and demand for bottled water increases. It is a problem we must deal with now, especially also in light of changes predicted from the climate crisis should conditions remain the same or worsen.

Is this not corporate terrorism?
US: Bottlers, States and the Public Slug It Out in Water War. Rights to Resource Are at Odds With Fears of Shortage
by David Fahrenthold, Washington Post
June 12th, 2006

The problem with Lovewell Pond, Howard Dearborn thinks, is the water that's not in it.Dearborn, who has lived on the pond's shores since the early 1950s, says its water has turned from clear and sandy to dark and weedy in the past year. He thinks the problem is a cutback in clean water from a nearby natural spring, which used to dilute the murky flow coming in from the Saco River. Now, though, millions of gallons of the spring's water are pumped into tanker trucks bound for a Poland Spring bottling plant."Where do they think the water was going before they took it?" asked Dearborn, 88.

Because of complaints such as Dearborn's, Maine has become a battleground in a growing fight that pits environmentalists against an industry that has become rich by selling the purity of nature: the bottlers of spring water.In a series of lawsuits and statehouse debates that reached critical mass in the past year, activists and lawmakers have questioned whether bottling companies have become too greedy about the water they take from the ground, and -- in some cases -- what gives them the right to take it at all."The problem of bottled water is it's a new, unexpected and 100 percent consumptive use," unlike irrigation, for instance, which allows some water to return to the soil, said Robert Glennon, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has written about the bottling industry. "Once you put water in a bottle, it's gone."

Because of this, Glennon said, "bottled water raises the issue in the most profound way, of 'Whose water is it?' "It's a question that has not been raised much until recently in Eastern states,, which didn't have the kind of water battles that occurred out West between irrigation-dependent farmers and growing cities. Water experts say that, in many Eastern states, the water rights come with the land: Within certain limits imposed by permits, any water that comes out of your ground can be yours.This year two Eastern states, New Hampshire and Vermont, have tightened their restrictions on large-scale water withdrawals, both with bottlers in mind, and another such bill has been proposed in Michigan. In California, Michigan and New Hampshire, local groups opposed to new water wells have filed suit.

Last year in Maine, a citizens group proposed a measure thought to be the first of its kind: to tax every gallon of water extracted. That effort failed, but now the group is pushing a proposal that declares, "The citizens of the State collectively own the State's groundwater." It would create a system in which companies would have to bid against one another to tap prime water aquifers, with the proceeds going to the state.In response to all this, bottling companies have said they're being targeted unfairly, noting that agricultural irrigation and city water systems extract far more water from the earth than they do. A recent survey by a University of Maryland researcher found that only about 0.019 percent of all the groundwater removed in the United States winds up in bottles.The companies' theory: It's their now-ubiquitous bottles -- which make plain the fact that plain old water is being sold for more than soda or gasoline -- that have led them to be singled out for criticism."

I think people fundamentally have an issue with people taking the water and selling it," said Bill Maples, who manages the Poland Spring plant in Hollis, Maine, where empty plastic bottles zip like tram cars overhead and an average of more than 3.5 million containers are filled every day. "If there was caramel coloring in it, it wouldn't matter" as much, he said.The spring-water business is an old one: The first three-gallon jug of water from the actual Poland Spring was sold for 15 cents in 1845, and in western Maryland, Deer Park spring water was first bottled for railroad passengers in 1873.But now, the industry has been transformed by Americans' enormous thirst for packaged water, as annual per capita consumption has gone from less than three gallons in 1980 to more than 26 today.

More at the link
I am proud to see Americans standing up to these companies that want to suck our water resources dry. People in Kenya and other areas of Western Africa and in India are facing a crisis because of lack of potable water. Again, ONE BILLION people in this world currently do not have access to potable water, and that number is predicted to rise to over one third of the global population within twenty years. And also, many areas like those in India that once could count on enough rainfall to compensate are seeing a changing in patterns of rainfall due to climate change which now makes the situation even more dire.

Yet, corporations still only care about their cut. Companies like Coca Cola have also allegedly using illegal practices as well in taking this resource to use for profit while denying water to residents un India and Central America. WHERE DOES THE GREED END?

The water bottling industry is a 400 billion dollar industry. It pulls in three times more than the pharmaceutical industry, and demand is rising. So as population rises and demand rises with it worldwide, freshwater resources will begin to dwindle, and as Professor Glennon stated above, "once it's gone it's gone."One in six Americans drink only bottled water which is most clear example of the global trend to privatizing water as a commodity rather than as a human right. Moreso, bottled water is often not what it appears to be.

Corporations spend millions of dollars promoting it as safe, clean healthy, and superior in quality to tap water, while many popular brands actually come from our public taps. A Natural Resources Defense Council study found that bottled water is no more "pure" or safe than tap water. The bottled water industry is also the least regulated industry in the US. And it can be seen by the price which in many cases is marked up to cost more per gallon than gasoline! Which of course makes those in this industry very happy, but at what price to us in the costs it brings to our land and to our global environment? Do they truly have the universal right to simply use this precious resource for their own profit over the needs ot others?

It was Coke, Pepsi, and Nestle which sponsored the World Water Forum which took place last March, and they account for half the global bottled water market. And they are also pushing for privatization of water reources. I think you get the picture.

Water should remain a public trust controlled by local government at the behest of the taxpayers. It should also be declared a fundamental human right. It is the utter insensitivity and indifference of these companies overshadowed by their greed that makes this all so unfair and so morally wrong. I believe there need to be more stringent guidelines in allowing just anyone with a permit to take water out of the ground. Again, the taxpayers of any state should have rights over corporations who come in simply to raid their water resources for profit. So we must keep fighting to see the day when water, that most sacred, beautiful, and life sustaining force is treated with the respect it should be treated with, and used to give life to all equally who need it.