Monday, March 19, 2007

Water is the Oil of the 21st Century: Take Action on World Water Day

World Water Day March 22, 2007

"Fortune magazine calls water the oil of the 21st century — 'the precious commodity that determines the wealth of nations.'"--Food & Water Watch
The 1993 novel, The Fifth Sacred Thing, takes place in 2048 in a world where corporations control water, and Northern and Southern California are in a civil water war. Fiction could become reality unless we start making water access and water rights a top priority.

World Water Day (March 22) was adopted by the UN in 1993 to bring attention to the over 1 billion people who are without access to clean, safe drinking water. has links to film screenings, and "Walks for Water" happening in the United States and Canada March 22-24, as well as buttons and badges (like the one above) that you can put on your blog or web site.

The theme of this year's World Water Day is, "Coping with Water Scarcity." According to the United Nations Population Fund's "State of the World Population 2001",
"Worldwide, 54 per cent of the annual available fresh water is being used. If consumption per person remains steady, by 2025 we could be using 70 per cent of the total because of population growth alone. If per capita consumption everywhere reached the level of more developed countries we could be using 90 per cent of the available water by 2025."
This map presented at the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City, shows the relative "risk status" of 162 countries regarding access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Beyond World Water Day, you can:

Conserve water.
Here are tips from the EPA
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full. Hand wash dishes by filling the sink or a dishpan with water, rather than running water continuously.
  • Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth or shave.
  • Take short showers and turn off the water while you soap.
  • Choose appropriate water levels for your laundry load size.
  • Water your garden or lawn early in the morning, or late at night, to reduce evaporation.
  • Allow your grass to grow a little taller to provide shade and prevent water loss.
  • Grow plants native to your area's climate.
  • Turn off the hose between rinses when you wash your car.
  • Sweep, rather than hose off, your sidewalk.
  • Cover your outdoor pool when it isn't in use.
    Here are more tips from the EPA
Get involved with WaterAid in the UK, US or Australia.
WaterAid is an, "international non governmental organisation dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world's poorest people."

Learn more about Corporate Water Privatization
* Check out the links and resources about corporate water privatization on the Sierra Club's web site here and here.
* Read Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water, and watch the documentary, Thirst, that inspired it.
* Watch K.Shalini's film, "Drop of Life". The film imagines a world in the near future when the lives of two women, an executive at a Manhattan-based water corporation that produces pre-paid water meters, and a school teacher in a village in India that uses the meters, intersect.

The poet, Ovid said, "There is no small pleasure in sweet water." We can make sure that all people have that pleasure through our own conservation, and by telling our leaders to make ending water poverty a priority. We may think they won't listen, but they will if enough of us ask, because as Shakespeare wrote, "The people are like water and the ruler a boat. Water can support a boat or overturn it."


  1. Anonymous7:05 PM

    Introducing water rights is a difficult process and the question arises if such rights are really needed? Thirty water rights experts and river basin managers from 7 Asian countries pondered on this question together in a 3-day Workshop on Water Rights. They concluded that water rights are indeed necessary, but not across the board, and that there is much wisdom in the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They argued that water rights could be introduced selectively in river basins or parts of basins that suffer serious water stress and agreed that when it comes to water rights, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

    Water rights are about providing security. The rural and urban poor need security of access to clean water and sanitation to satisfy their basic needs and live with dignity. Subsistence farmers need the security of water service for their livelihoods. Landowners seek security of water service to invest labor and money into developing their land. City dwellers need security of water supplies to maintain a more advanced lifestyle that inevitably involves higher consumption of water. And industrial and commercial users need a secure investment climate for their business development plans, and reliable water services are an integral part of their needs.

    In countries without a water law that recognizes water rights, everyone has the same rights to water. In practice, this means that water users with more power, money, and influence find it easier to achieve water security than the poor.

    I really enjoyed reading your post,

  2. Hi Rose,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this extremely important issue.

    You wrote,"Thirty water rights experts and river basin managers from 7 Asian countries pondered on this question together in a 3-day Workshop on Water Rights."

    When and where was this?


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