05 August 2013

This Week in Water

I'm hoping this will turn out to be a regular series of aggregative posts on issues concerning what may be humanity's greatest resource and its most serious and pressing need:

Turns out August is National Water Quality Month in the U.S. Do you think anybody notices? Do you think anyone cares?

Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires the government to list "impaired" water bodies in the U.S. Currently there are 41,496.

The Human Resources needed to provide universal access to clean water and sanitation are immense and, for the most part, currently woefully unmet.

Where is all our water going? Apparently, in drought-riddled Texas, mostly to power plants.

Some believe corporations and wealthy individuals are trying to buy up water rights for some of the largest aquifers in the U.S. and the world. The situation is become direr as scarcity of potable water increases. For example, "[T. Boone] Pickens has purchased 68,000 acres, as well as the right to drain up to 50% of the Ogallala aquifer [which stretches from Texas to S. Dakota] to sell for his own personal profit." Who'd'a thunk Enron! would be at the heart of this trend. Or Nestle?

Canadians, our polite northern neighbors, take a stand against profiteering by big banks and corporations from thirst and growing water shortages. [Tons of good resources in this article for future research!] The outcome looks gloomy:
Unfortunately, the global water and infrastructure-privatization fever is unstoppable: many local and state governments are suffering from revenue shortfalls and are under financial and budgetary strains. These local and state governments can longer shoulder the responsibilities of maintaining and upgrading their own utilities. Facing offers of millions of cash from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, and other elite banks for their utilities and other infrastructure and municipal services, cities and states will find it extremely difficult to refuse these privatization offers.
The elite multinational and Wall Street banks and investment banks have been preparing and waiting for this golden moment for years. Over the past few years, they have amassed war chests of infrastructure funds to privatize water, municipal services, and utilities all over the world. It will be extremely difficult to reverse this privatization trend in water.
There seems to be a battle brewing in North Carolina between State government and corporate giant Pittsburgh, PA-based Alcoa over who controls the water and electric power that comes from the state's second-largest river system. Does a state government have the right to regulate water quality within its borders? Alcoa seem to think not.

Greeks don't want to see their water resources privatized as a result of the [shock-doctrine] austerity measures imposed upon their country.

Is it really illegal in parts of Oregon to collect rainwater that falls on your own land?

Large-scale, rapid privatization of water resources is affecting global food security.

But how does privatization [not just of water] hurt me?

Here's the big story writ small, the headline out of India: "Water Mafia Cashing in on Water Scarcity."

In politics, the Water Bill is yet another piece of legislation stalled in the House of Representatives while the Republicans in Congress spend their time (and millions of our tax dollars) attempting to take away Americans' right to access to affordable health care. The bipartisan, earmark-free bill which sailed through the Senate must get in line behind appropriations bills which might normally pass except for the so-called Hastert rule which requires Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to obtain a majority of his own party's support before bringing any bill to the floor of the House.

The mining industry believes its members should be able to conduct mining activities close to streams and is urging the U.S. Dept. of the Interior not to issue or enforce rules preventing them from dumping their coal mining waste within established, traditional stream buffers.

Not everyone believes methane and other runoff from hydraulic fracking contaminates nearby aquifers, however. Including high-level EPA staff.

We might never find out though if fracking companies continue to impose gag orders when they reach legal settlements—even with 7 year olds.

Radioactive water continues to seep into the ocean from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor. Who will emerge first—Godzilla or Mothra?

In other matters, warming ocean temperature are rearranging the biological geography of the oceans, pushing species toward the poles by upwards of 7 kilometers every year.

Japanese biotechnologists have developed high-yield, drought resistant rice strains.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Greeks don't want to see their water resources privatized as a result of the [shock-doctrine] austerity measures imposed upon their country.

It looks like it will happen here, does it not?

Randal Graves said...

That's why I always chuckle at the scowling and hand-wringing over oil, mere skirmishing.