Sunday, August 9, 2009

We All Live Downstream. Is Access To Water A Basic Human Right?

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:

Blue Planet Project

Sources: Water Consciousness
Food and Water
Global Population
Global Water
Stop Corporate

Win $500. More information: Here


aspotofblog said...

Water is so precious and more people should treat it as such.

I'm always very mindful of the water I use.

You also raised a good point on the livestock issue. Many people can't appreciate the amount of water it takes to sustain livestock and the crops that feed them.

Since this world is becoming more and more overpopulated and many people refuse to cut down on their meat intake, I'm very worried about the world's water supply.

If people don't want to cut down on their meat intake because they don't care about the animals, then they should at least do it for the environment.

We can't live without water, yet we treat it so casually.

Thanks for spreading the awareness and keep it up.

Al said...

Hey TC,
Thanks for the two comments you left on my blog.
Really, the Swine flu is a very mild illness. Even my daughter who has a couple of underlying conditions has come through it with no problems (she was given Tamiflu because of her asthma), she is well again.
I find the articles on your blog quite interesting and will check back from time to time

Al said...

Hey TC,
thanks for the two comments you left on my blog.
My daughter is over the Swine flu now. I am finding it a very mild illness. I probably would still be at work except the doctor said I should not spread it around.

crunkyjens said...

I never really understood how much water it took until you put it in real terms in this latest post. I find it very alarming that funding has been cut so drastically, from 78 to 3%? It makes you wonder where that missing 75% has gone and what dumb, questionable things it is being used for!

Elizabeth Barrette said...

For water, demand already exceeds supply in many areas. Some make up the shortfall by draining aquifers and rivers dangerously low. Even that isn't enough anymore, though. I blog about these and related issues often enough to have a "water" tag on Gaiatribe:

TC said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I am trying to get my comments feature on my blog fixed. It has had a bug and I have been unable to respond to comments. I am trying this new platform out.

TC said...

Ok. got the comment bug worked out. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Another Blogger said...

I always though that water like the air and the sun. Always free for every living things.

TC said...

It really should be but that is increasingly not the case. Precisely why I thought it would be good to address the issue to share the circumstances of the situation.