Water Privatization: Issues & Debates

A worldwide crisis over water is brewing. According to the United Nations, 31 countries are now facing water scarcity and 1 billion people lack access clean drinking water. Water consumption is doubling every 20 years and yet at the same time, water sources are rapidly being polluted, depleted, diverted and exploited by corporate interests ranging from industrial agriculture and manufacturing to electricity production and mining. The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will suffer from lack of clean and safe drinking water.

Today, people around the world are losing ownership and control of the water which remains.

Instead of protecting their citizens’ water resources from self-interested profiteers, governments are retreating from their responsibilities and bending to the will of giant transnational corporations that are poised to profit from the shortage of water. Fortune magazine has predicted that "water is the oil of the 21 century," and now corporations are rushing to invest in the new get-rich economy of water. Giant water, energy, food, and shipping companies have plans to buy water rights, privatize publicly-owned water systems, promote bottled water, and sell "bulk" water by transporting it from water rich areas to thirsty markets. At the same time, to ensure maximum profits, these companies are lobbying to weaken water quality standards, and pushing for trade agreements that hand over the U.S. water resources to foreign corporations.

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