Out of sight of most Americans, global corporations like Nestl�, Suez, and Veolia are rapidly buying up our local water sources--lakes, streams, and springs--and taking control of public water services. In their drive to privatize and commodify water, they have manipulated and bought politicians, clinched backroom deals, and subverted the democratic process by trying to deny citizens a voice in fundamental decisions about their most essential public resource.
The authors' PBS documentary Thirst showed how communities around the world are resisting the privatization and commodification of water. Thirst, the book, picks up where the documentary left off, revealing the emergence of controversial new water wars in the United States and showing how communities here are fighting this battle, often against companies headquartered overseas.
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The filmmakers who made the documentary Thirst have put together an account of the push for the privatization of public water works and the pillaging of the countryside as producers of bottled water play fast and loose with the water tables. The authors spotlight eight communities that have fought back against Big Water, and though each case is unique, there are trends. Water privatization is an expensive proposition, and many water companies are forced to "quickly slash costs and raise prices to maximize cash flow and pay down the debt." The means to turn a profit often include soliciting multi-housing developments to create new ratepayers and raising water rates, such as a proposal in Felton, Calif., to hike rates 74 percent over three years. Similar stories appear throughout the book and detail dealings in communities big-Atlanta, Ga., and Lexington, Ky., both privatization battlegrounds-and small-Wisconsin Dells, Wis., and Mecosa County, Mich., where grassroots groups sparred with beverage giant Nestl�. The writing is provocative and the topic is an easy bet to raise hackles.
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March 15, 2007
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