You are on page 1of 19

The Issue

Water is a key ingredient to life, according to the United Nations Deputy


Secretary General, Water is a precondition for human existence. Our bodies are
made up of 60% water, every day, each person on earth requires between 5 and 13
gallons of clean water for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. With the recent
human population explosion and the impacts of climate change and human
development, access to clean water is becoming an increasingly important issue.
Seventy percent of the earths crust is covered in water but only 2% of fresh water
is easily accessible. Water privatization has come about due to multinational
corporations buying water rights around the world. Water has the potential of
becoming a greater commodity in the future that can be bought and traded, our
water is going to be worth trillions. Water privatization will be an answer for many
poor countries finding ways to balance their budgets and reduce their debt through
selling their water to private companies. So questions arise about the track records
of private corporations business practices and their control of an element essential
to human existence. Will businesses will take care to maintain water quality? Who
even determines the level of quality, will there be oversight? A corporations
concern for profits will affect the price of water, will certain populations be priced
out of good quality water? Soon water will be too large an issue to ignore, from
China to the backyards of America, we will all be affected (United Nations).
Significance
With the demand for water soon to outstrip the supply, mankind will have to
face an important question, how will everyone get clean water? Many people
believe privatizing water will help to conserve water by rebuilding outdated water

delivery systems. But one problem with water privatization is that it will increase
water prices, limiting the poor access to clean drinking water. The effects of climate
change are becoming more apparent, we will have to find a ways to serve all the
thirsty people of the world. While private business have the resources to build and
develop water systems, so far, privatization whenever it has been implemented it
has proven detrimental, and has led to higher water prices and poor water quality.
Companies are likely to put profits above wellbeing, how can we trust a company to
handle our water?
Future
The future of water is looking bleak, with increases in population and its
impact on the environment, we will soon have to face this issue head on, Im afraid
it may be too late. The first thing we will start to notice is that the water bill that you
receive will not be from the city, county or other government agency, but from a
private company, and to accommodate costs and profits, your water bill will likely
be more expensive. Another thing will start to notice is that large container ships
that used to contain oil will be shipping water. The news will soon be filled with
countries in the Middle East fighting each other over water rights, there will be
revolts in some areas due to high water bills and the poor not having access to
clean drinking water.
Purpose
The purpose of this research paper is to deeply examine the impact of water
privatization, and produce an action plan to find solutions to water privatization.
A Deeper Examination

During the 1980s, Bolivia experienced a deep economic recession, the country took
a restructure loan from the World Bank which pushed to sell off all public
enterprises owned by the government including an airline, electric utilities, and the
train system (Public citizen critical energy). 1999 President Hugo Banzer sold
Cochabamba water system and rights to Aguas del Tunari who works for Bechtel, a
company ranked in 2013 as the 4th largest private company in the United States.
(Forbes) Cochabambas population is 516,683 (United Nation) Bechtel bought the
water shed for $2.5 billion with a forty-year deal (Public Citizen critical energy). 45%
of Bolivias population lives below the poverty line (CIA). Bolivia ranks at the bottom
of South America in poverty, education, fertility, malnutrition, mortality, and life
expectancy. In January of 1999, Bechtel was in full control of Bolivias water system.
An economic report published by the World Bank in June reports that No public
subsides should be given to ameliorate the increase in water tariffs in
Cochabamba. (World Bank). Water tariffs did increase by 200-300% (Public Citizen
critical energy). This meant thousands of familys couldnt afford that rate hikes
which means thousands of people went without water many people who couldnt
afford the water bill their property was seized or they were thrown into jail. In
February of 2000 the people had enough (Public Citizen critical energy). Strikes and
protests erupted across Cochabamba the protesters created road blocks in
Cochabamba which shut the city down four days (Public Citizen critical energy).
President Banzer dispatched police who used tear gas on the protesters, 175
protesters were injured and 2 were blinded by the tear gas (Public Citizen critical
energy). The protest spread across Bolivia police broke into protest leader homes,
and arrested over a dozen laeders and were reportedly sent to remote jungle
3

prisons which was confirmed by (Government minister Walter Guiteras). The protest
lasted through April, Banzer placed the country under martial law (Public Citizen
critical enrgy). During a protest a teenager was shot through the face by police
(Public Citizen critical energy). During the martial law there was a suspension of civil
rights including arrests of protesters. Freedom of the press was limited many
journalists received bomb and death threats (Public Citizen critical energy).
Nationally broadcasted station showing a police sharp shooter firing into crowd of
demonstrators(Public Citizen critical energy). The protest reached a head and under
pressure of Cochabamba mayor and civil rights groups Banzer terminated its
contract with Bechtel who in turned sued Bolivia. Now Bolivia has recently
discovered largest amount of natural gas in South America. Bolivia will be in the
newss in the near future (Newsweek).

Map showing availability of water across the world.

(Cohen, Dave. "A Flash in the Pan." 'Decline

of the Empire' N.p., 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.)

Deeper Examination
With water resources slowly dwindling and climate change hot on humanitys
heels across earth 2.6 billion people dont have proper water sanitation (Aljazeera).
Global water consumption is doubling every 20 years (Goldman Sachs). Demand for
water will outstrip supply by more than 30% by 2040 (United Nations). So with these
troubling numbers many governments are silently scrambling to find water.
Countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Jordan are having disputes over
water rights (Newsweek). China with the earths largest population is planning to
buy water from Russia (Newsweek). The U.S. already ships some water from Alaska
to India (Newsweek).
Problem
In 2007 in Chaffee county in Colorado Nestle set its sights on the Arkansas
River. Nestle spent large amounts of money negotiating a water deal with the 3
member board of land managers in Chaffee County (FoodandWaterwatch). Nestle
proposal was to drain 650 million gallons of water from the Arkansas River, and to
build a new water bottling plant (Colorado Independent). The proposal was greatly
disliked by 80% of the population of Chaffee County (Colorado Independent). The
proposal passed and Nestle reportedly spent $1.4 million for 1 acre property along
the Arkansas River (Colorado Independent).

On February 5th 2015 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, signed the Water
Infrastructure Protection Act. Which removes public vote from switching water
systems over to private companies (New Jersey). The bill will hand 539 community
water supply systems to private companies (New Jersey). A political contribution
made to Christie by a company called American Water of Voorhees contributed
$50,000 after the passage of the bill to Republican Governors association when
Christie was chairman of the organization (New Jersey). Supporters of the bill say it
will help re build an aging and neglected water delivery systems, and save the
government millions. The state will need $41 billion over 20 years to repair its
sewage and water system (EPA). Forty five percent of the state receives water from
privately run companies (New Jersey).
Water Wars? A river along the China and India border called Brahmaputra is a
major tributary to the Ganges River (BBC). China is planning on building 3 new
dams called Dagu, Jiacha, and Jeixu upstream from India (BBC). China assures India
it will not be taking large amounts of water even though on February 27, 2012 the
town of Pasighat in India reported little to no water. This disturbing event means
water was outstripped by supply (BBC).

Map of the Brahmaputra River

("India, China Agree to Share Flood Data on Brahmaputra."

Tibetsun.com. N.p., n.d. Web).

Cause
Nestle has a trend in buying up water rights from Africa to South America
(FoodandWaterwatch). Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said Water isnt a
human right, and should be privatized.(GlobalResearch). In Colorado now, 25
trucks carrying 8,000 gallons of water each drive from the Arkansas River to Denver
to bottle up Arrowhead springs water and ship them off across the U.S.
(Foodispower). The causes of this problem was created by a local government
wanting to make a quick buck. Nestle bought the politicians and got their way even
though 80% of the population was against the deal (Coloradoindependent).
An average New Jersey household pays $153 more on water per year if their
water is privatize (Foodandwaterwatch). Camden New Jersey, with a population of
76,000 and an unemployment rate of 11.7% which is almost double U.S.
unemployment rate (City-data). In 2009 a state audit revealed that United Water
had $29 million in unapproved payments (Newsweek). Reports also showed that
Camden had 45% uncounted water loss due to leaks and other problems
(Foodandwaterwatch). Little to no maintenance on water holding tanks and fire
hydrants (Foodandwaterwatch). Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, was pursued by
New Jersey American Water Company who spent $ 1,047,467 on a campaign to
persuade Trenton residents to switch to privatization (Foodandwaterwatch). But the
people were able to block the water company. The mayor of Trenton, and American
Water sued a group of citizens who wanted the citizens right to vote on the issue,
the Supreme Court ruled in the citizens favor (Foodandwaterwatch).

China and India have the largest populations on Earth, China has 20 % of the
worlds population but only 7% of the fresh water resources (usnwc). A large
percentage of Chinas water is heavily polluted and deemed un-usable even for
industrial use (Water facts). Over 300 million people in China dont have safe
drinking water (OilPrice). China is scrambling right now due to low water
tables(OilPrice). China has a plan to solve this problem by 2050, when they plan to
move 45 billion cubic meters of water per year (usnwc). They plan to move this
water through series of tunnels and aqueducts the estimated price for this major
project is $62 billion (usnwc). India has 17% of worlds population but less than 4%
of the planets fresh water resources (usnwc). China and India both have large
populations that are still growing and both rely on a dwindling water source, caused
by increased construction of dams by the Chinese and growing populations in India
diverting water for farming and industrial use (usnwc).
Significance
The significance of Nestle buying water in Colorado along the Arkansas River
is that Nestle is bottling water which will end up back in the ocean. US consumers
purchase about 28 billion bottles of water each year (foodispower). We only recycle
23% of the plastic bottles (foodispower). The rest of the petroleum based plastic
ends in landfills and in the garbage patch in the ocean which, as the plastic
degrades, contributes to pollution in our oceans (Foodispower). The problem with
Nestle is buying water and using it for bottling, will contribute to more pollution in
the Pacific Ocean, the plastic trash adds to the desolation of the ocean habitats for
fish. The 3 laws of ecology applies to this case showing all life on earth is
interdependent.

The significance of New Jersey switching to private water system will become
a common trend in the U.S. They pay more for water but have corporate
irresponsibility and poor water quality. In 2001 United Water gave out $800,000
million of wrongful death and personal injury due to certain types of cancer causing
substances found in the water (foodwaterwatch). But in 2006 United Water was
fined $65,000 for failing to notify public of radionuclide in the water, the company
was found to have manipulated reports and concealed water quality tests
(foodwaterwatch). The political spectrum applies to this case of water privatization
in a conservative state such as New Jersey where they are experimenting with
selling of public water systems, but Democrats have come out against water
privatization. The big 12 also applies due to lack of education by lawmakers that
has led to detrimental health problems for some citizens of New Jersey. The reason
this is significant is, why would you want to have to spend double on water but at
the same time not knowing if its clean.
China and India have large populations with very little fresh water
surrounding them. China has a plan, but India might be left hung high and dry. The
significance of this issue is that there is a high possibility of a major conflict
breaking out between India and China, because if you cant provided water for your
people, how are you going to provided food for the people. The Himalayan River
basin covering Nepal, China, India and Bangladesh provides water to 1.3 Billion
people (OilPrice). 10-20% of the rivers in the Himalayas are dependent on glaciers,
and 70% of these glaciers may melt in 100 years (OilPrice). According to Chinas
Water Minister Wang Schucheng finds the large project Unscientific, and
unreasonable. (OilPrice). This will affect U.S. Foreign policy in many ways if China
and India were to enter a war due to both countries growing economic powers. This
9

issue also applies to Big 12 due to China, and Indias overpopulation and lack of
education has led to pollution of water in both countries. This has forced both the
countries to move to extreme measures to find fresh water.
The Obama administration secured $6 billion for repairs of the water delivery
system that the EPA estimates the cost $300 billion to re build water systems across
the U.S. (Newsweek). The daunting task of fixing our water system starts back in
the Nixon era when they started to slash Federal water funding which has become
common among presidents through the years. We need to repair basic things in our
water system. The American works association reports more than 6 billion gallons of
water is lost due to leaky pipes (Newsweek). The World Bank predicts private
investment in water will double and increase by 20% in the next 5 years (World
Bank). But there is hope a purification system called Slingshot created by Dean
Kamen (Slingshot). The system purifies water by vapor compression distillation
(Slingshot). The system uses less than a Kilowatt of power, and produces a 1,000
liters of water enough for 100 people (Slingshot). This system can work in 3 rd world
countries in small villages struggling to find clean drinking water. Another solution is
using Nanotechnology to clean water pollution. Studies have shown that
nanomaterial is effective in absorbing toxic chemicals, and turning them into
nontoxic (EPA). Nanotechnologies have been used in cleaning polluted ground water
and oil spills (EPA). The U.S. could slash the $534.3 billion defense budget and put
the tax payers money into better use (CIA).
Conclusion
With population soaring to new heights and water resources and aquifers
slowly drying up where will we find enough water? Water is important to everyone

10

privatization can work if strict oversight and quality water testing is emplace to let
companies have control of water delivering systems. But as I have presented in the
research paper above companies are not capable of controlling water systems with
cases of rising water prices to poor water quality leading to ailments in the water
causing abysmal health effects. I have learned that water privatization is a huge
issue that stretches all across the planet, also, that this issue will start occurring
more in the news as climate change slowly escalates. Water privatization affects
everyone. Water issues really connects everyone together because water is life
blood for humans, and without it we will die.

Recommendation
The Slingshot made by Dean Kamen, may solve water problems in 3 rd world
countries in small villages. But its not enough to solve the worlds water shortage
problem even though Dean has donated thousands of machines. Nanotechnology
will soon become the future of cleaning up polluted water, such as oil spills and
other forms of contaminated water but still doesnt solve the supply of water.
Agriculture uses most of the fresh water, so reducing Americans red meat intake,
and switching to a healthier tofu or just less red meat in our diet in general, will help
save water. Another recommendation is limiting water usage around your house by
installing water saving toilets, or simply not having luxuries such as pools, washing
your car, or having to maintain water wasting lawns and landscapes, and limiting
how many showers you take. There are many strategies that will help conserve
water.
Action Plan
11

My action plan will include notifying my state senator and local government
officials about the problems surrounding water privatization. I will also do my part in
conserving water around my house by taking shorter showers, and taking data
around my house showing how much water we use and how much is wasted.
Another way I can get my message about water privatization, is to create a video
for YouTube or to send this paper or write a letter to the Daily Show with Jon Stuart
or John Oliver who can carry warnings about water privatization to millions of
Americans and people across the world.
Final Statement
As humanitys candle light fades, we will soon find ourselves at a crossroads,
either we do something drastic to save humanity as a whole, or we do as humans
have always done, overcome our problems by creating new technologies to improve
our lives. I believe we will solve the problem of water supply, But it will be through
developing new technologies and conservation, and not a corporate takeover of our
water.

12

Annotated bibliography
Augnstein, Seth. "Christie Signs Law Greenlighting Fast Track Sale of N.J.
Public Water Systems." NJ.com. N.p., 05 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.
This article is an analysis of water privatization the author brings in lots of
data and laws to prove his point. The author goes in depth discussing laws
that apply to water privatization. The author reframes from trigger words and
remains focus at the topic. This source will prove invaluable due to list of
many facts and laws affecting water privatization in New Jersey.
Lapp, Anna. "World Bank Wants Water Privatized, despite Risks." Fact-Based,
In-Depth News | Al Jazeera America. N.p., 17 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

13

The author of this article expresses her concerns about water privatization
across the world by providing numbers and facts. The article is credible do to
the authors wording of the article and even though there is a sense of bias
against water privatization that is due to facts and credible sources the
author provided.
"Megadams: Battle on the Brahmaputra." BBC. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
BBC provided a brief overview of future problems occurring with China and
India fighting over water along the Brahmaputra River. The angle of vision of
the author is unbiased and shows the views of both China and India. The
article is recent and has accurate writing that flows with other writing about
the same topic.
"Bolivia." Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web.
05 Apr. 2015.
The CIA provided easy assessable facts about Bolivia and had data rich
webpage with huge list of facts that were supported by years of research.
"City-Data.com - Stats about All US Cities - Real Estate, Relocation Info,
Crime, House Prices, Cost of Living, Races, Home Value Estimator, Recent
Sales, Income, Photos, Schools, Maps, Weather, Neighborhoods, and More."
City-Data.com - Stats about All US Cities - Real Estate, Relocation Info, Crime,
House Prices, Cost of Living, Races, Home Value Estimator, Recent Sales,
Income, Photos, Schools, Maps, Weather, Neighborhoods, and More. N.p., n.d.
Web. 05 Apr. 2015.

14

City data provided accurate data about cities in New Jersey and their
unemployment rates and citys population. The data was recent and accurate
Christopher, Mark. "Water Wars: The Brahmaputra River and Sino-Indian
Relations." United States Naval War College Newport, Rhode Island. N.p., n.d.
Web.
The article focus on water trends in China and growing concern in India over
damns being built by China along the Brahmaputra River. The article
describes a case study in India and China that is struggling to access water.
The source has an unbiased tone with lots of data. The article is important to
prove problems that can arise in limited availability of water.
David B. Schorr, The First Water-Privatization debate: Colorado Water Nestle
Colorado Independent (2010).
The sources provieds accurate overview of Nestle expanding Water
Privatization in Colorado along the Arkansas River. The data is accurate, and
current the author provides good research that is data rich and supported by
accurate sources. The article aid me in my research of Nestle water
privatization.

"Water Qualiy Facts." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 05


Apr. 2015.
EPA listed water numbers/water pollution numbers that they have collected
throughout the years. EPA also provided new ways they were going to combat
15

pollution including nanotechnology. Their data was backed up by years of


research and including degree of advocacy towards protecting U.S.
environment.
"Food & Water Watch." Food Water Watch General. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb.
2015.
Food & water watch.org has a short summary of problems facing water
especially water privatization the site gives a list of news articles at the
bottom of the webpage that you can access to learn more about water
privation. The site provides 10 publish articles to support their view. Food &
water watch had acceptable data that was bias free and the site will provide
many facts.
"America's Largest Private Companies." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web.
05 Apr. 2015.
Forbes provided a list of the largest U.S. Companys the data was supported
by several list of sources. The data was current and the author had no reason
to be bias towards another company.

Solomon, David. "Water: Emerging Risks & Opportunities." Goldman Sachs.


N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
Goldman Sachs provided a large business fact sheet that gave a large
overview of water resources around the world. It also provided the companys
view, and future investments concluding that Water will surpass the price of
oil in the near future. Goldman Sachs article was recent, and data rich. The
16

article provided accurate data that followed other data that I have seen. Even
though there was a sense of bias towards the company, it was backed by
many sources.
Hagopian, Joachim. "Privatization of Water as an Owned Commodity Rather
Than a Universal Human Right." Global Research. N.p., 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 20
Feb. 2015.
This source provided a quote backed by video evidence.

Interlandi, Jeneen. "The Race to Buy Up the World's Water." Newsweek. N.p., 8
Oct. 2010. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.
Newsweek provides a fact based article describing future and current
problems occurring with water. The article is a good source do to the authors
non bias word usage and the article is filled with facts and the author
provides a list of credible sources she used during the article.
Monitor, Geopolitical. "Water Wars: The Next Clash between India and China."
OilPrice.com. N.p., 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2015
OilPrice gave a brief summary of the up and coming water shortage problem
between China and India. The site provided 10 sources they collected their
data from. The angle of vison of the article was un biased and accurate.
"Water Privatization Case Study: Bolivia." Public Citizen Home Page. N.p., n.d.
Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
This source proved valuable in my research paper due to in depth
examination of Bolivia and water privatization in Cochabamba. The source is
17

supported with lots of sources the author cited. The degree of advocacy is
pretty clear the author doesnt use trigger words and provides accurate view
of problems of water privatization in Bolivia.
"SlingShot Focuses on Inventor Dean Kamen and His 15-year Quest to Solve
the Worlds Safe Water Crisis." SlingShot. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.
Slingshot provided a brief overview of their system and how it works and
future plans to expand the machine so it can help millions. The source was
accurate and data recent.

"Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World." UN News Center. UN, n.d.
Web. 05 Apr. 2015.
The UN gave basic facts that they have collected around the world and about
water. The facts were unbiased, recent and supported by years of research.
"Water Usage & Privatization." Food Empowerment Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18
Feb. 2015.
This article addresses the agriculture usage of water, and also list several
companies that were included in water privatization. This source is highly
credible with over 30 sources. The source also provides lots of data without
being bias the author constructs a data rich information paper. This source
will be useful for the paper by providing information on water usage for
agriculture.

18

"World Bank Group." World Bank Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
This source provides lots of brief overviews of its activity in various countrys
regarding water privatization. The author in these articles were bias in
wording but provided excellent brief overviews of problems and had many
sources.

19