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Aquifers

How Corporations Drain Our Aquifers for Profit (Part 2)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 by: Heidi Stevenson
Tags: aquifers, water supply, health news

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(NewsTarget) McCloud is not the only town under duress and Nestlé is not the only corporation waging war over this precious resource that actually belongs to the people.

Methods Used to Steal the People's Water

In 2004, Denmark, Maine foolishly sold water to Poland Spring Water, a subsidiary of Nestlé. In October 2005, the planning board of nearby Fryeburg approved a Poland Spring plan to set up a trucking station to load water pumped from nearby Denmark. This led to a voters revolt, which failed. In November 2005, an appeal was filed by citizens of Fryeburg to prevent the trucking station from being built. They won. But this was just the beginning. A series of court actions ensued. With the might of Nestlé against them, with its seemingly limitless money to buy the most brutal of attorneys, citizens of tiny Fryeburg do their best to stand against the onslaught.

In the meantime, Howard Dearborn, who has lived on the shore of Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg since the early 50's, complains that the once-clear water has become sandy and murky as a direct result of Poland Spring's withdrawal of water from a feeder spring. In these corporate times, though, that seems to be of little significance.

Nestlé's Techniques

Nestlé sashays into small, rural, financially hurting towns. It sends in people like Dave Palais, charmers whose job is to quietly find the people who can make water deals and con them into signing it away.

In McCloud, California, Palais spent time learning about the local politics and finding out who would likely be an ally. He created an image of wealth that could be provided by a paternalistic company, such as McCloud once had as a logging company town in past years. A little money gets tossed around, the sort of thing that impresses people whose locality is down on its luck, like taking members of the planning board to see a fancy new facility. It was just what was needed to put stars in their eyes, to make them think that they, too, could be part of the huge corporate profits.

Once the local starry-eyed officials have been won over and a contract signed, no matter how unfair or unreasonable, no matter that the local citizens are kept out of the negotiations, there is generally little to be done. Lawsuits and propaganda do the rest. It's nearly impossible to battle the Nestlé juggernaut unless it's stopped up-front -- and even that is no guarantee of holding them off.

Water Wars World Wide

These wars for water take many forms. Nestlé buys up the rights to pump unlimited amounts of water from tiny rural towns that are ill-equipped to know what they're signing on to. There are, though, other methods of taking water and devastating local economies.

India and Coca Cola

Coca Cola sets up enormous bottling plants in India, withdrawing groundwater without any concern for the consequences. As a result, ground water has been drying up. In the southern state of Kerala, Coca Cola has drained so much of the aquifer that the wells have run dry. Coca Cola, of course, claims that the 250,000 gallons of water it's pulled per day has had nothing to do with it.

Land and water in Kerala have been poisoned with waste from the plant's sludge. Coca Cola claims that it's fertilizer, though analyses of it show high levels of lead and cadmium, both highly toxic.

The once-lush farm country has been turned into parched desert, destroying the livelihoods of local farmers and threatening the ongoing existence of the people. Following the same methods as Nestlé, Coca Cola fights the people's will to shut the plant down by interminable legal actions, propaganda, and outright lies, such as the claim that poison-laden sludge is fertilizer.

International conglomerates -- like RWE of Germany, Suez of France, Thames Water of England, and Veolia of the United Kingdom -- own water supplies all over the world. Local communities foolishly sell out, falling for charming sales pitches, or they are forced to sell or give their water. Entire nations are forced to sell because of contracts imposed by organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which press deals onto destitute nations requiring that the public commons be sold off to corporations.

World Bank and IMF Force Water Sales

Desperately poor countries are forced to accept onerous terms by the corporation front World Bank for desperately needed money. They are required to sell off items of the commons, like water, to international corporations.

Bolivia's Story

At times, as in the case of Bolivia, World Bank and IMF terms are not insisted upon initially, when the country might have the option of saying no. In 2000, the World Bank insisted that Bolivia privatize its water or pay off the entire loan immediately. This left the government with no options. Aguas del Tunari, largely owned by Bechtel, was a primary benefactor of this maneuver. They turned life-giving water into a profit center. Draconian measures were used to coerce exorbitant payments from people for their own water. People were punished for catching water in buckets for their own use. If they couldn't pay, they were refused all access to water.

In Bolivia, the story has a happier ending than usual. The people resisted. They protested. They put in their own pipes to water supplies. They refused to bow to the corporation's might. During one peaceful protest, media cameras captured the military shooting and killing protesters. In the end, Aguas del Tunari gave up. However, Bechtel did not. They used the same tactic as Nestlé and Coca Cola. They instituted legal actions, claiming entitlement to millions of dollars for Bolivia's "breach of contract" with Aguas del Tunari.

James Wolfensohn, then-president of the World Bank, stated in response to these events, "The biggest problem with water is the waste of water through lack of charging." What could better express that the World Bank and the IMF are nothing more than fronts for multinational corporations?

Tanzania's Story

In 2003, the World Bank funded a privatization scheme to provide water to the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. It was an arrangement that looked much like a gift. Most of the world noted only that the International Monetary Fund was forgiving loans. What generally went under the radar was that the countries on the receiving end were required to give their water to private corporations. The United Kingdom's Biwater corporation was the beneficiary of this largesse.

Three years later, the contract collapsed. Just how much money Biwater actually received is unclear, but it was in the millions. No new pipes were installed. During the three years, water quality in Dar es Salaam declined. Nothing of benefit was received by Tanzania. Of course, Biwater has a different tale. However, its primary claim is that it had signed up 10,000 new customers, which is hardly a strong sign of progress in developing infrastructure.

Agribusiness

Agribusiness pumps the groundwater as if there's no tomorrow, thus assuring that the day is quickly coming when there truly will be no tomorrow. Throughout the U.S. groundwater levels have been plummeting, largely because of abuse by agribusiness, and only recently because of water bottling.

The United States' largest, the Ogallala Aquifer, runs under eight states: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. It is critical to farming in the center of the nation. It's replenished slowly because it's in a relatively dry area. At least 12 billion cubic meters are being drawn from it every year. It's drying up.

Agribusiness is taking the water and putting it into, primarily, grain crops. Most notable of these is corn, much of which had been grown as surplus, that is, unneeded produce. Recently, the amount planted in corn has increased astronomically for use as biofuel, which costs more in carbon dioxide production than simply using oil for fuel. Corn is also one of the most water-hungry grains. Worse, agribusiness uses primarily overhead watering, which is extremely inefficient, resulting in a great deal of water lost to evaporation and run-off.

As a result, the Ogallala Aquifer is expected to dry out in less than 25 years. At that point, we can expect the plains to turn into a desert.

Thames Water and London

Privatization of public water, such as London's Thames Water, results in increasing costs to consumers and the loss of previously-routine services, such as rat control in the sewers. Before privatization, the public utilities took on rat control as a natural part of their service. For Thames Water, though, there is no profit in it, so they don't do it. As a result, London's rat population has been growing. That, of course, leads to the obvious increased risk of disease, including bubonic plague. Less well known, though, is that there are more fires, because rats chew the insulation off electric wires.

Sinkholes and Sewage Leaks

A lack of repairs to an antiquated pipe system, a problem throughout the United States, causes massive leakage and loss of precious water. This leakage has caused many sinkholes, into which entire houses have fallen. On March 3, 2008, the Chicago Tribune printed a photo of a sinkhole from a water main break that had just swallowed a minivan. In 2007, a big rig truck disappeared into a sinkhole.

Sinkholes happen when a small hole develops in a water pipe, allowing small bits of surrounding soil to leak into the pipe and be washed away. Over time, large amounts of soil disappear. Eventually, the ground caves in.

When the pipe breaks catastrophically, rather than developing a small hole, a water or sewage leak occurs. When it's sewage, massive amounts of pollution are leaked into the environment. More than 40,00 of these spills result in an estimated 3.5 million people being stricken by illness each year in the U.S.

As water supplies and sewage treatment become more and more privatized, these problems can only grow. When water and waste treatment are privatized, there is no profitability in repairing old pipes.

The Philosophical Conclusion

Mike Adams' recent article, "The Biofuels Scam, Food Shortages and the Coming Collapse of the Human Population" (http://www.naturalnews.com/023091.html) tells it like it is. He wrote, "The 'destroy and consume' model of free market enterprise is simply not sustainable."

Water is the primary stuff of life. Psychologically, it represents our deepest emotions, that which motivates us. Allowing something so primal to be privatized and sold for profit is indicative of how far we've fallen, of how foolish we are, and how utterly removed from our own nature and needs we've become.

It is the height of hubris for a corporation to believe that it can own what belongs to the earth. Corporations are constructs created by humans -- by us. They are a part of us, not something separate. If we are convinced that we hold no control over corporations, then we are behaving no differently than any schizophrenic fighting with externalized demons.

As Mike wrote, "The 'destroy and consume' model of free market enterprise is simply not sustainable, folks." We've let the corporations steal our water without a whimper. There will be no stopping this process unless we-the-people come to our senses.

References:

"A Poland Spring timeline", The Conway Daily Sun, (http://defendingwaterinmaine.org/news/DailyS...)

World Water Wars, (http://www.worldwaterwars.com/)

"The real reason there are more rats than ever", Johann Hari, The Independent, (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/comment...)

"Coca-Cola in India accused of leaving farms parched and land poisoned", Guardian, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2003/j...)

"Coke vs People: The Heat is On in Plachimada", India Resource Center, (http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/...)

"Bolivia Vanishes: See Style Section", Greg Palast, (http://www.gregpalast.com/bolivia-vanishes-s...)

"Cochabamba protests of 2000", Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochabamba_prot...)

"Timeline: Cochabama Water Revolt", Frontline, (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/bo...)

"The Sinkhole Syndrome", by Chris Mayer, Daily Wealth, (http://www.dailywealth.com/archive/2007/may/...)

About the author

* Heidi Stevenson, BSc, DIHom, FBIH
* Fellow, British Institute of Homeopathy
* Gaia Health (http://www.gaia-health.com)
*
* The author is a homeopath who became concerned with medically-induced harm as a result of her own experiences and those of family members. She says that allopathic medicine is the arena that best describes the motto, "Buyer beware."
*
*
* Heidi Stevenson provides information about medically-induced disease and disability, along with incisive well-researched articles on major issues in the modern world, so members of the public can protect themselves.
*
She can be reached through her website: www.gaia-health.com

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