Where is our water going?

The other night, as I sat watching the rain fall, gloomy from my lack of outdoor adventures, I started thinking about where all this rain culminates on its journey. I pondered the water cycle and the reasons for shortages in fresh water. Curious as to what forms of media had been done on the topic, I looked up documentaries about water. My roommate and I started looking through on-demand movies, and we found a gem. There was a documentary about fresh water called For Love Of Water, or F.L.O.W.

“Thousands have lived without love, none without water” was the quote at the beginning of the movie, by W.H. Auden. It opens by showing different scenes of flowing water, catching the viewer’s attention very seductively. Every year, two million children die from water related diseases. Apparently, the world needs fresh water. We consist of 70 percent water, and just like the earth, we have a hydrologic cycle.

In the United States alone, there are estimates that 500,000 to 1 million people a year get bugs and viruses simply from our water supply. There are chemicals and toxins in our water, and they leave our bodies and go straight back into the supply.  However, these diseases do not kill us-or do they?

Crops throughout the world are highly inefficient in water usage. The chemicals make it necessary to use 5 to 10 times more water in order to keep them healthy. Seventy percent of water in the world goes to agriculture, twenty percent to industry, and ten percent to us. Birth defects in Mexico increase in agricultural areas. Fertility declines in Europe where large amounts of pesticides are used. Cancer in Tasmania rises 200 percent in areas of pesticide use. In the Seine waters, fish are changing SEX due to chemical imbalances; the males lose their masculinity.

This movie really brings to light the effects that industry has on fresh waters. Sewage is dragged from slaughterhouses down the river and into Lake Titicaca, where the natives think of these waters as sacred. One out of ten kids in Bolivia may die due to lack of clean, fresh, drinkable water. What is the reason? Water privatization is.

In countries such as Bolivia, the fresh waters have been “bought” by big companies and ran through systems that make people pay for fresh water. However, many of these people simply cannot afford to pay for water, due to the fact they live off of so little. This results in families drinking water from dirty and polluted rivers. Since investors put money into these water companies, the company cannot afford to pay its investors unless they charge for the water. There are solutions!

By using a system of UV rays, a man in India created a system that easily decontaminates water to make it drinkable for people. In order for someone to pay for this water system, a family would only need two U.S. dollars a year! Why are we not using these methods all over the world? One reason is that water companies create a 400 billion dollar per year industry, one of the top five in the world.

In 2006, the world’s people spent 100 billion dollars on bottled water alone. It is estimated that to supply fresh water to the entire planet for a year, only 30 billion dollars would be needed. That’s not even the best part. Bottled water is found to be hardly different to any of our tap waters. It has the same chemicals, because most companies simply filter tap water in order to put it in to bottles and sell it for ridiculous prices. This means people do not even really benefit from drinking bottled water. Why don’t we take our money and supply people with water that is a right, not a privilege.

Another problem is dams. Those damn dams have displaced anywhere from 40 to 80 million people from their homes. People living in lush, green places, were forced to move, and since the dam stopped river flow, the places they moved to were dry and infertile. Damming up rivers causes the destruction of ecosystems, and the truth is that dams aren’t even really necessary in many places. There are methods of water collecting, proven by the people of Rajasthan. They set up water aquifers to collect rain water in a very dry place, and were able to supply water to the whole community with 7600 family built structures. These structures made lush greenery grow in a place where it should not have the chance to live. However, these people were told these waters were not theirs. How can anyone own the waters? It does not make sense.

Nestle built a large factory in Michigan to bottle water, and this depleted the lakes, contaminated rivers, and upset the people. The people fought back, and the court ruled against Nestle. Nestle appealed, and won. They were limited to how much water they could take, but it is still millions of gallons. These things need to be stopped!

People all over the world are standing up against water privatization, and are going to the local to provide water for their communities. If we all take a stand, we can be a huge help as well. By discontinuing buying bottled water, we could force the money to go into fresh water projects. People are using methods of UV light, local community water aquifers, houses with roofs that collect water, and even playgrounds. Kids spin on “playpumps,” causing water to pump through a purification system and into their homes. If we do not keep our waters fresh, it is estimated that in the next 10-20 years, we will have huge problems finding fresh water. I hope the world is listening, and I think this movie is a huge eye opener for anyone who takes pride in this earth.

Talk about a rain delay…