Just saw a compelling film on Sundance Channel called Flow: For Love of Water about the scarcity of clean water on the planet. Filmmaker Irena Salina, inspired by an article in The Nation called “Who Owns Water“, sounds the alarms, exposing how huge corporations are “privatizing” the world’s fresh water supply. Often this comes at the expense of the people upon whose land this water freely flows — people are displaced from their homes and farms with promises of new homes and clean water systems which are never delivered, while the corporations pollute the environment and destroy the ecosystem. In some cases, the corporations leave inadequate water for the people whose land they have overtaken or offer to sell back that water at prices the poorest communities simply cannot afford.
Water is necessary for life, yet unclean water carries diseases that kill more people each year than AIDS or war. Human beings cannot survive even more than a few days without clean water to drink, but when water is privatized and then only offered for sale to people who have no means to pay the inflated price, the only option is to drink what dirty water can be found. And, lest we think clean water is only a problem in the world’s poorest countries, the film points out that the water system in the United States is contaminated by pollutants including toxic waste, pesticides (that are illegal in other civilized countries) and pharmaceuticals we see advertised on TV every day.
While the information is alarming (the water supply is running out in as little as five years for some parts of the country, bottled water is no safer than tap, and there is barely one person at the EPA overseeing the safety of our drinking water) and the corporate greed that threatens to control our access to clean water is frightening — there is some hope: the films shows examples of ordinary people who organize protests and sometimes emerge victorious in their fight for free access to water.
In 1948, the United Nations created a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights“, which has 30 articles of agreement. On the 60th anniversary of this historic achievement, the filmmakers spoke at the U.N., proposing the addition of Article 31 which states, “Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.”
View the video to the UN presentation and you can add your name to the petition in support of Article 31 here.