We All Live Downstream. Is Access To Water A Basic Human Right?
Posted Aug 10 2009 12:34am
Is access to water a basic human right or is it a resource commodity to be privatized like oil or gas? How much will you pay for water? Who should have access to clean drinking water? Will some cities become ghost towns due to impending changes in water supply? Where will you live? These are valid questions in a time of challenge.
H2O or water is the most abundant molecule on earth as well as in your body. Our mere survival depends on it's availability. It has shaped how we life & interact and in turn shaped much of the appearance of this planet. We all are connected to water through our dependence on it and how it is used. Do you know that the demand for water is doubling every 20 years? This is outpacing even our robust population growth by a factor of 2 to 1. Yes, demand for water is growing at a pace double the rate of population growth and the world population more than doubled in the last 40 years far outpacing historical growth trends. Demand for freshwater will exceed supply by 50% within the next twenty years by many estimates.
Today there are already nearly 1.5 billion people without access to clean water and nearly 2.5 billion live without proper sanitation or sewage. This is both a humanitarian as well as environmental problem with massive implications on a global scale.
Who uses the most water? Large agribusiness and factory farms are by far the biggest consumers of water and in the process create enormous waste and devastation. Crop irrigation accounts for 65-70% of the worlds water use. Let me give you just one example of the reckless consumption. Corn production, the major commodity crop unnecessarily over used in international agribusiness livestock feed and food processing (high fructose corn syrup in soda, corn oil, ethanol gas, nearly 70% of all processed foods)is probably the worst abuser. In the U.S. alone, roughly 1/2 million gallons are used per acre of corn annually. This equals about 75 gallons to get just one pound of corn. When you factor the livestock farming into the picture is takes about 600 gallons to produce the corn needed, in conventional factory farming, to make just one 1/3lb burger. Currently, worldwide there are corporations and investment groups jockeying for position in the battle for water rights through privatization. The implications of such movements should be of concern to you.
Roughly 97% of the worlds water is salt water. About 2% is frozen in ice caps and glaciers leaving only 1% for all the agricultural, manufacturing, community, residential and personal needs including the needs of animal species that are freshwater dependent. Since 1991 the federal government of the U.S. has cut roughly 66% of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that helps communities keep their water clean. Consider that 85% of Americans receive their water from public utility departments that are in budget shortfalls. This infrastructure is a multi-trillion dollar investment privatization target. This similar scenario is playing out in several countries worldwide. Drink this bit of info. In 1978 federal funding for new water infrastructure covered 78% of the cost. Today it accounts for less than 3%. This leaves the states and individual rate payers to come up with the rest of the funds to purify the water and treat sewage. There will be rate increases that will constitute a regressive tax on the working class and the poor. This is just another small part of the much larger issue. There has been recent success in the battle against privatization but this is a long and steep hill to climb. The fact that fresh water is becoming more scarce should force us to look at strategies to change current policies, water usage practices & agricultural production techniques. For more information visit these sites: