UN and US Water Concerns Increase

In 2012, completely frustrated with the two leading presidential candidates ignoring responsibility in their campaign speeches, Peculiar Progressive pointed out the five vital realities facing America, and the world. The top priority is water. You’ll find that column here.

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United Nations concerned about water supply.

This month, we’re seeing concern about water conditions come from both the United Nations due to energy consumption, and in the U.S. from problems both with drought and pollution.

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The UN will present its full United Nations World Water Development Report 2014 (WWDR) March 21 in Tokyo for World Water Day. Earlier this month, the UN released a capsuled view of the report, noting the interdependence of water and energy. The capsule stated in part:

Currently, 15 percent of global water withdrawal is used for energy production. This percentage is expected to increase by another 20 percent between now and 2035 as population growth, urbanization and changing consumption patterns, especially in China and India, drives up the demand for energy.

 

Several world regions are already facing water shortages and the Report foresees that increasing energy demands will weigh heavily on remaining resources, especially in arid areas. The Report urges improved coordination between the water and energy sectors and greater private sector involvement in these areas. It also makes the case for a revision of water pricing policies, arguing that water is generally considered as a “gift of nature” and that its price rarely reflects real costs.

It will be important to see the UN’s attitude stated more specifically regarding “greater private sector involvement” and pricing policy that “reflects real costs.” Will the UN face the reality of corporate efforts to take control of water supply? Will the UN encourage it? Will the international body encourage providing water for all, no matter the level of income, or push for water only for those who can afford higher prices? Peculiar Progressive looked at the issue of water privatization last June. That column is here.

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Water and soda bottlers sucking us dry?

Earlier this month, The Motley Fool (despite its cheek-tongue name a respected investment analysis site) stressed the problems in corporate takeover of water in its article “Coca-Cola and Nestle are Sucking Us Dry Without Our Even Knowing.” The article points out:

The companies’ conflicts with communities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa are too numerous and sordid to be invented from whole cloth. Moreover, the simple fact is that sucking groundwater out of one place, bottling it, and shipping it for sale in another place that typically already has perfectly safe public water ranks high on the list of stupid things to do with scarce water.

 

So yes, Coca-Cola and Nestle are indeed sucking us dry. So are our modern agricultural practices and unconventional oil and gas extraction, to an even greater extent. A blended privatization scheme may indeed be part of the solution, but if it’s done right, it will only make life harder for Coke and Nestle.

The Motley article actually opened with concern about the current California drought:

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The droughts currently ravaging California, which will likely send food prices soaring down the road, have highlighted the importance of available freshwater supplies. As 17 communities in California are within 60 days of running out of drinking water, the ability of companies like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  )  and Nestle (NASDAQOTH: NSRGY  )  to effectively privatize water supplies feels awfully disconcerting. While the rains that just began to fall out west may bring some measure of relief, the fact remains that the world is coming up hard against a water crisis.

Which brings us to national concerns about water here in the U.S. The most precious concern appears to be the dry situation in California, primarily due to the state’s high population and its vital place in providing food supply, the number two priority in our earlier column on Five Vital Realities.

The California situation led the Los Angeles Times earlier this month to focus on a study revealing Americans’ lack of concern about water supply. The study also revealed how we’re involved in a national drought:

The study’s conclusions were based on an Internet survey of 1,020 people, and comes amid a national drought that extends from the Pacific Coast to portions of the Mississippi Valley, with the most severe conditions in California.

 

“Most Americans assume that water supply is both reliable and plentiful,” Attari wrote. “However, research has shown that with climate change water supply will become more variable due to salinization of ground water and increased variability in precipitation.”

The seriousness of the California issue has also been covered by both Forbes and CBS’s Sacramento affiliate, seen in these two articles: “Drought Stokes California’s Class War,” and “Strong Earthquake Could Pose Serious Threat to Delta Water Supply.”

Meanwhile, at the nation’s eastern end, the results of pollution continue to sting, seen in articles such as “Duke Energy’s $1 Billion Cleanup: Who would pay?” and “The Future of Water Supply in Florida.”

As scientists and conservationists look for possible ways to solve the water supply problem, more of those eyes are looking at storage of storm water. The country just celebrated National Groundwater Awareness Week from March 10-16. One article highlighted the U.S. National Academies of Science’s 2012 report Alternatives for Managing the Nation’s Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites. The article also provided statistics regarding groundwater.

A week earlier, Minnesota Public Radio asked the question “Can We Fill Up Our Underground Water Supply with Stormwater?” Answers are provided here.

So, what do you think? Is it time for you to get organized, get educated, and get active in assuring adequate water supply for your community? Go for it!

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