By State Of, stateofthenation2012.com
July 6th, 2015
by Paul Gallagher
[PDF version of this article]
April 11—Over the past 30 years, global financial firms have pushed for the privatization of public water supply systems all over the world, and in the past 15 years they have developed exchange-listed “water price indices” to introduce “trading floors” into the world of populations’ water supplies. While doing so, these global capital holders have been preparing for serious water shortages and intense drought conditions to appear, enabling them to play black marketeers, as Enron did so brutally with California’s electricity supplies under deregulation in 2001.
Given that the U.S. Western drought will continue, and likely intensify, until scientific solutions can be mobilized for it, we have to keep the hands of Wall Street and the water privatization lobby off Western water supplies.
The hands of the latest would-be President Bush, for example, Jeb, who told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “We must push privatization [of government] in every area where privatization is possible.”
Or New Jersey governor and Obama pal Chris Christie, who pushed through legislation in January allowing—indeed, almost requiring—any New Jersey municipality that needs serious infrastructure investment, to privatize it.
Water at a Price—of Life Itself
In the midst of the California drought emergency, the huge multinational Nestle, seller of bottled water to the world, is providing one example of what must be stopped. Gov. Jerry Brown, while cutting public water use 25% by order in Sacramento, as in the rest of the state, has placed no limitation on Nestle’s withdrawal of freshwater from aquifer springs nearby. Nestle (alias here: the Arrowhead Mountain Water Company) continues to draw water at an 80 million gallon/year rate, paying 2 or 3 cents/gallon; it bottles the water in Sacramento, and sells it for roughly $16/gallon-equivalent to the city’s population, which has had its tap water use restricted.
This comes under the world overview of Nestle’s Austrian chairman Peter Brabeck, expressed in 2011 at Davos as follows:
“For the sustainability of … humankind, the most important issue is water…. We will be running out of water long before we are running out of oil.
“NGOs, in a simplistic manner, are saying, ‘Water is a human right; therefore, it’s not a commercial utility.’ My answer to this is, ‘Yes, you’re right. Water is a human right. The 25 liters of water [about 5 gallons—ed.] that you need as a minimum in order to live, is a human right. That’s a few liters for cleaning, a few liters for drinking, daily hydration and minimum hygiene…. But beyond that, this is not a human right.
“We need 25 liters of water per day. But we are using—in the United States—400 liters per capita per day. So this 380 liters, I don’t think this is a human right, and this should have a price. Why? Because if you do not put a price, we will not make the investments which are necessary in order to use the most precious of resources in a more responsible manner….
“If you do not give a value to the water, those [infrastructure] investments are not going to be made, because nobody has an interest to invest, because you don’t have an economic return…. If the water has at least a decent price, the investment can be made.”
The clear “smell” emanating from Brabeck’s statement is the basic reason for privatization of water: Raising the price of water (always done in privatization, as shown below) differentially hits poorer water users, some of whom will lose access to water, food, or hygiene, and either become ill, or malnourished, or die.
Population reduction is the raison d’être of privatization. Another Davos regular and 30-year leader of Greenpeace, Amy Larkin, made it equally clear in the April 10 London Guardian: “The sort-sighted approach has failed to properly factor the drought threat into its pricing mechanism…. São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and industrial center, has begun rationing water and is discussing whether or not it will need to depopulate in the near future.”
Brabeck’s monstrous claim—that 1% of current water use is a “right” which should be provided by governments, and the availability of the other 99% of use should depend on its price—has two gross lies embedded in it. The first is being proven by Nestle in Sacramento every day. It is using the natural water supplies of the area, not responsibly, but extremely wastefully, because it can bring a high price in private sale. This, in a word, is the story of privatized water systems all over the world during the past 30 years. The high price cuts off the access and perhaps the lives of lower-income people, while wasting the water.
Brabeck’s second lie concerns the human race. He claims that mankind does not invest time and resources into scientific and technological progress—expressed as new infrastructure—unless tht commands a high money price for private investors. The extraordinary water supply and management infrastructure of the American West—built for the most part through the Bureau of Reclamation, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, Army Corps of Engineers, and continued through the period of JFK’s Presidency, as by then-California Gov. Pat Brown—proves this is false. What we are going to do to revolutionize water management around the Pacific Rim in the future, proves it is false. And water privatization’s history of failures proves it is false.