Sunday, November 22, 2009

Post 186. WATER.

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In defence of public water.

In Italy we are always slightly against the flow.
In France, in Paris water will return to being public from 1st January 2010. The mayor, Bertrand Delanoe has not renewed the contracts with the multinationals Veolia and Suez. Water will be managed by a public body called “Eau de Paris”. The saving for the people of Paris will be at least 30 million euro a year.
In Italy, the non-Parliament has transformed into law, a decree that makes public water private. The Ronchi law sets out that the percentage of public capital in the companies that manage water is not more than 30%.
Water is a natural right of man. Not a business. Wherever the management of water has been privatized, its price has gone up, doubled, tripled. Whose is water? It’s ours. It belongs to our towns, our regions. It’s the rain that falls from the sky. The multinationals and the ones who voted for the Ronchi law can go and F*** off. Have they done the law? I will start a referendum to repeal it. The next V-Day will be for water, for our life. In Spring, after the elections. They will never give up (but is it in their interests?). Neither will we.

I’m publishing the text of a telephone interview I gave recently.

Matteo Incerti: "Beppe Grillo, public water is basically in great danger?"
Beppe Grillo: Look, here the tricks, rather than public/private, are in the semantics of what it means to be public and what it means to be private: we have to be very watchful, because the reaction, when you say “we want water to be public”, they say: “but it is public: the water sources are still publicly owned, give the management to the private sector with a 30 /40% public share in the management of it and so what are you grumbling about? Water is still public property and the management is private”. This is the hellish trap because, what determines the market situation, is the one that manages it and not the ownership of the source. They are the pipes, and the distribution of the water. It’s like energy, it’s the same thing: who has the pipes, the wires, has the effective ownership. Another distinction that you have to make is that when a company becomes a corporation and it handles the water for a province, for a town, for a city or for a region, it is subject to takeovers and thus a corporation that manages water can be bought and there’s another situation: that who effectively manages the corporation is not the one with the majority of public/private shares, 49 and 51%, that has nothing to do with who manages the controlling package of shares. Do you remember that “Tronchetti-the-unhappy” managed Telecom with 0-0.8% of ownership of shares? Another thing, the incredible thing is that the corporation has reference points that are not the users of water, but its shareholders and consequently it has to go off and make profits, get the share price going up, sell broken piping, not do repairs, raise the price of water. Where there’s been private management there’s been an increase in the price, there’s been chaos. Water is not only what is drunk, but it’s what is distributed in all senses. We need a substantial reform of the concept of water, how a house is built and thus the water management in the houses with double piping and the recovery of rain water, the water that goes into the washing machines and the dishwashers for the first wash, then goes into the toilet flush, the water in agriculture, where 70% is wasted. 70% of drinking water goes to agriculture, half is wasted with incredible management that is anti-technological. Water is behind any type of energy, anything is done with water, a car needs 400,000 litres, a suit 40,000 litres, a drink of orange 10 litres. There’s always water behind anything, so water is the principal thing, together with energy. It is the energy of the future and it is absolutely necessary that the word “private” disappears from its management, from its ownership and from the word “water”! “Private” and “water” are two oxymorons. They should never meet! Water is public property. It should be publicly managed by a transparent network: any spending on the water system, on the charges and on the increases should be justified to the citizens through the Internet, who can make proposals, take ownership of the charges or have a discussion on the charges, that is a transparent discussion on the prices, on the maintenance, on the real costs together with the citizens. This is the management of the future of water!”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:35 AM in Politics |


How valuable water is? Today 31 countries are experiencing a water shortage. The World Bank said that by 2025, two-thirds of the world population will be short of clean water. The rush for water is on. Corporations are scrabling to buy water rights, privatize publically owned water systems promote bottled water and sell "bulk" water by transporting it from water rich areas to markets desperate for more water.

Ten years ago, Fortune magazine wrote, "...the dollars at stake are huge. Supplying water to individuals and companies is a 400-billion dollars-a-year industry. That's 40% of the size of the oil sector and one-third larger than global pharmaceuticals. And this is just the beginning..." Johan Bastin, of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said, "Water is the last infrastructure frontier for private investors."

If that's the case, -and that's the case-, one can understand Silvio's enthusiasm for privatizing water in Italy. A few private individuals will profit big time. And who knows where he fits in all of this. Privatization of water is theft, it will condition democracy, the water flow will be manipulated, rate hiked, service will deteriorate and no one will be accountable.

Economic factors effect other questions. In the case of water privatization the repercussions on human rights are crucial. Water is a resource basic to our very own existence. No water means dehydration and death, no water means less sanitary conditions leading to poor health. The moment prices for water are set, social inequality increases. The poorest that must do with less water, live more difficult lives, lessening their human dignity.

When water is unaffordable and not physically accessable a litany of basic human rights are denied: work first of all, adequate food, good health, enjoyment of cultural life, and the right for future generations to natural resources are all denied. Water must be protected by the state by keeping it under public domain and by passing anti-pollution laws. It must
make sure that water is available to all, especially to people that can't afford it or individuals unable to get to the water source.

Posted by: louis pacella | November 21, 2009 07

Comment by blogger-:

In Sicily the Mafia has always owned water resources.


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