Water privatisation

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Water privatisation

Water can be compared to air as being a crucial substance for life. Without one or another most of life on Earth would rapidly vanish. But there is an important difference between two of them, a difference set up by man through his ‘world order’. Air is available on every step and is free. We breathe it anywhere and anytime we want or need to. Which is always – how could this be any different? But on the other hand we pay for the water we drink. Which is logical to some degree since the rapid population growth and urbanisation demanded construction of a vast infrastructure for water supply and/or cleaning. Water sources can’t be accessed on every step and the whole supply infrastructure has to be financed. The cost can be direct (paying the bills) or indirect (taxes) but in any case we expect it to be ‘symbolic’ and that it truly covers only the cost of supply. But the inevitable financing of water supply triggered an idea in the ambitious neoliberal man – why not create profit with water?

 Water privatisation

Privatisation of water sources is becoming increasingly important problem because of the rapid population growth, urbanisation, political unrests and extreme weather events. Although low prices can be problematic from the ‘respect for the water’ point of view and its conservancy (price unfortunately became the no.1 factor of the attitude towards a certain good), but high prices on the other hand always affect the most vulnerable members of the poor class. As stated in an interview for CNN by Maude Barlow, the founder of Blue Water project: "When you add the for-profit motive into water supplies, some people are going to die. " And we can all agree that privatisation and for profit motives go hand in hand.


There are different arguments for or against water privatisation. Its supporters claim that privatisation enables the most efficient and rapid supply-setup for the majority of residents in certain countries, since this model enables (or motivates) investments. The opposition on the other hand claims that it is not true and that most of the private models are no more efficient than public. Main problem are high prices of water and even connection to the pipeline, which is often raised by will due to the monopoly status of some concessioners. The latter often claim they provide water to the majority of people in certain countries, which is misleading. It just means that the pipeline geographically covers most of the area, but not that water is supplied to most of the people. This is because the hook-up is simply too expensive for the poorest ones who do not have access to potable water although pipeline might flow right next to their houses. A similar case is cowered in the documentary A World Without Water. Water privatisation is also supported by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which adds salt to conspiracy theories. When the fact that most of the privatisation models are (or were) set up in environments with high levels of corruption is added, the recipe for a catastrophe is perfect.


For profit water exploitation for tap supply is just one dimension of the problem. The other, maybe even more controversial, is water extraction for the purpose of bottling and producing of different kind of drinks. Since it often takes place in drought prone areas the problem is even bigger. Results are absurd cases when locals do not have access to potable water because of shortages while bottling plants are working full time.


Water must not become a for-profit commodity but be available to all people and living creatures on earth. After all – denial of the right to drinking water is a sentence to death.  On the other hand we (people)have to change our attitude towards water, drastically lower its consumption, search and implement  solutions for its efficient usage as well as built systems for rainwater recovery, wastewater recycling etc.


People are more and more often connecting into civil movements that call for mentioned changes, like for instance the Article 31 movement.