Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Post 211. Water Resources.

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Water resources must once again become a public asset. Listing the rainfall on the Stock Exchange is tantamount to entrusting people’s survival to a bunch of sharks. The next V3day will revolve around public water and is scheduled for 8 May 2010. Italy lacks a widespread water culture. Our rivers and streams are being polluted with almost total indifference, our water sources are unprotected and water is being wasted as if it were an endless resource. Water is this century’s crude oil, an object of desire to the multinationals, which we must defend at all costs. However, in Italy we do have certain movements and groups in favour of water as a public resource, such as the "Italian Forum of movements for water resources ".
"I am Paolo Carsetti, Secretary of the Forum italiano dei movimenti per l’acqua, a network of associations, local committees and trade union organisations that has been going since 2006. The forum is fighting a battle to ensure that water remains a public resource and to uphold one of our basic human rights.
We began at the end of 2006 by drafting a public inspired Bill proposal, for which we then gathered more than 400 thousand signatures. The Bill is now under discussion in Parliament, however, given the current government-institutional framework, the bill is not enjoying must support from the parties in Parliament and is therefore lying forgotten in some or other desk drawer. We held the first ever demonstration in Italy in support of public water on the first of December 2007, which was attended by more than 40 thousand people, and we are now busy conducting a national campaign, involving all of the local committees, associations and individuals, because we believe that this is the only way to guarantee the rights of, and service delivery to the entire population.
In Italy, the process of privatisation of water supply services began in the mid nineties. Various pieces of legislation were introduced, entrenching the principle of private management of the water supply services. This resulted in a number of consequences for the citizens. Firstly, the water supply charges have risen constantly over the years because, in addition to the fee for managing the service, according to law the operator’s fee must also include a margin of profit, which we as citizens and users are obliged to pay to the operator. What we were told at the time when the privatisation process began was that the State could no longer afford the costs involved in managing the water supply process, nor was it able to provide the funds required to upgrade the water supply infrastructure, which was already then antiquated and described as “a sieve”, so the only possible thing to do was to privatise the service since the private sector was the only party that had the necessary capital to invest.
What we are seeing now, and all of the data supports the fact, is that in the early nineties some 2 billion Euro per year was being spent on the provision of water while now, instead, that figure has dropped to approximately 700 million Euro per year. So, on the one hand we have tariff increases to ensure the profit margins of individuals and operators and, on the other hand, a simultaneous reduction in the level of investment and in the quality of the service provided.
There is also another undeniable fact underlying the privatisation process, which is that I, as a private sector operator, am charged with managing a service and thus distributing a resource, my main objective will be to increase the amount of product that I sell year by year, so much so that, in Italy, the so-called "scope plans", namely the plans via which our water resources are managed, forecast an 18% increase in consumption over the next few years. In other words, the operators are forecasting an increase in the sale of their product. I believe that this is to be avoided at all costs, also because water shortages will also be one of the initial effects and final consequences of climate change and the resulting global warming. We should therefore be working on plans to save water and on policies aimed at sustainable use of this resource, something that the private sector is unable to do due to its, perhaps even legitimate, entrepreneurial "mission". The only way this can be achieved is by allowing public bodies to manage the resource because their prime objective is to provide a service and uphold the rights of everyone, including enabling future generations to make use of the same natural resource.

What can we as citizens do to resist the privatisation of water resources in Italy? We have set up a number of campaigns, one of which is aimed at amending the municipal and provincial charters, precisely because the last piece of legislation approved by Government in 2009, refers specifically to the privatisation of water supply services in that it recognises said service as being of economic significance and must, therefore, necessarily be put on the market and be subject to market forces and free competition. We instead believe that water supply service, and therefore the actual water resource itself is not an economically important asset and should not, therefore, be subject to market forces but must be guaranteed to everyone as a right. For this reason, citizens can gather signatures within their local provincial and municipal districts, aimed at forcing their Town Council
We have already announced, and will do so again in the next few days, a national demonstration scheduled to coincide with “World Water Day”, which is held on 22 March every year. We are calling for a mass demonstration in support of protection for water resources, to be held in Rome on Saturday before World Water Day, namely 20 March. We are also appealing to all the movements and groupings to come and participate, even those that are somewhat disillusioned after the failure of the Copenhagen Conference but are still fighting for climatic justice.
At the same time, various political forces have launched an appeal for a referendum calling for the revocation of all those pieces of legislation that have enabled, and indeed ensured, the privatisation of water provision in Italy, a campaign that the forum must support wholeheartedly. This includes not only the latest Art. 15 of the Ronchi Decree approved in November, but also all of the laws that have granted private parties and multinationals access to water provision services in Italy in recent years.
You will find more details about all of the initiatives that the water movement has implemented and is currently busy implementing on the forum website at www.acquabenecomune.org, which is updated on a daily basis, as well as the option to add your signature to the call for the amendment of Municipal Charters, the upcoming call for the referendum and the initiatives relating to the national demonstration planned for March 20."
or Provincial Council to adopt resolutions to amend the Municipal Charter so that it acknowledges that access to water is a basic human right and that the supply of water is a local public service with no profit motive. In this way, the local body or Town or Provincial Council can reclaim its right to make decisions regarding how best to run water provision services, thereby sidestepping the national legislation, which is an essential step towards putting a stop to the process of privatisation in Italy.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 10:29 AM in |


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