Water policy is becoming a topic of major global debate between proponents of privatization and people who believe that people have a basic right to water. Water policy involves both the supply of safe and pure water and adequate sanitation (sewerage) systems to large populations. Today, more than a billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation.
Third world countries are almost expected to have problems with their water systems, but many are surprised to learn that these problems also exist in the United States, where the government provides 86% of water purification and sanitation. The problem is that the materials used in the pipes that were used to build the water infrastructure for the last 150 years have reached their life expectancy … that is, with the exception of the lead pipes that cause brain damage in children . If it weren’t so serious, it would be hilarious. Cast iron pipes used from 1850 to 1900 had a life expectancy of 150 years. The steel tubes used between 1900 and 1950 had a life expectancy of 100 years. Ductile steel pipes used since 1950 have a life expectancy of 50 years. That means that from the year 2000 all pipes are in time to deteriorate. The real problem is that the governments of the United States have been reluctant to spend the money to repair the infrastructure of the water systems for a sum of approximately 22 billion dollars of deficit each year, and many people unknowingly they receive undrinkable water at their taps. .
The United States is a best-case example because most third world countries are in a much worse situation. For example, cholera is found in the water supply in Zimbabwe. The government there chooses to ignore the problem, refuses to spend the money to fix the problem, or simply doesn’t have the money to spend it.
The solution being pushed by the World Water Council is the privatization of water systems. That means that corporations, whose main concern by law are profits for their investors, would control access to clean water and adequate sanitation. That idea immediately sounds alarm bells for many who see the unregulated private financial sector as the main cause of the worst depression since the great depression. The question arises as to whether private corporations should have control over what are clearly basic human needs and whether corporate greed can really provide good solutions for all people rather than just those who can afford their prices. The reality of privatization is that control of the world’s water would be in the hands of a few mega-corporations. If we think that a few huge banks are too big to fail, we imagine the dominance that large water corporations will have over people and governments around the world. The World Water Council, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank claim to be acting in the interests of people around the world, but in fact they are about promoting a corporate world view by claiming that this is the consensual vision of the world. world. people of the world. Representatives of the World Water Council in the United States have promoted the basic view that water is a basic human “need”, but not a basic human “right”.
According to Winona Hauter, CEO of Food and Water Watch, the truth is that there are many studies around the world that show that privatization is less efficient than public water systems and that privatization is more expensive and causes more environmental problems. According to her, the financial incentive for corporations is to use as much water as possible and spend as much money as they can on infrastructure. Infrastructure construction costs are passed on to consumers at a profit and, of course, the more water than is used, the more profit the company makes.
Privatization experiments have been carried out in Asia for the past ten to fifteen years. Those experiments have failed to provide the combination of efficient supply, transparent and democratic water systems, and lower prices. In fact, these experiments have largely failed at these points. What has, in fact, developed is unequal access to water and sanitation based on people’s relative ability to pay.
The debate between public and private will continue and the safety of the water delivered to your tap is likely to deteriorate. So what can you do? First, learn about water safety. Here is a brief introduction.
There are several sources of water pollution. First are the organic pollutants that include bacteria, viruses, cysts, molds, and spores. These contaminants can enter the water supply at the source of the water. For example, they can be the result of the death of plants and animals in or near a reservoir. That’s typically before the decontamination process, but decontamination doesn’t always catch all the nasty little critters. In addition, these contaminants can also enter the water by seeping from the sewers into the water pipes. Remember, pipes are starting to deteriorate and this leak is likely to become a growing problem.
Second, there are dangerous inorganic metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and aluminum. These metals can come from many sources, including industrial waste and even the pipes that water flows through. Remember that lead was not known to be dangerous until the 1980s. There is still a lot of lead pipe out there.
Third are chlorine and chloramine and the toxic by-products they create as a result of their disinfection. It’s surprising, but when chlorine meets organic pollutants, dangerous carcinogens can be created. Chloramine, the combination of chlorine and ammonia, was once thought to be a solution, but now it also has toxic side effects. The sad truth is that as pipes deteriorate, the EPA requires that there be enough chlorine or chloramine in the water to be able to disinfect the water for the entire length of the pipe. Yes, that means increasing amounts of these toxic chemicals.
Fourth are toxic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, fuels, industrial waste, and pharmaceuticals. These are becoming increasingly concentrated in our water supply because most water treatment systems were not designed to deal with these contaminants. Therefore, each time a medication is flushed down the toilet, the concentration in the water supply increases.
It should be apparent that between deteriorating infrastructure and contaminants that water treatment systems were not designed to remove, the likelihood that you will get safe drinking water at your tap is getting smaller and smaller. At the same time, the debate between public and private maintenance of water systems is likely to continue. If you win privatization, remember that the gains come from the lowest cost and highest spending, so don’t expect to get the best possible water from a private source.
If you think bottled water is the solution, you are wrong. Most bottled water manufacturing uses reverse osmosis filtration, but the problem is that reverse osmosis filtration membranes generally let the smallest bacteria and certainly viruses through. Small variations in the membranes create larger holes for tiny organisms to pass through. This is evident even in the case of bottled waters available today from well-known manufacturers. Additionally, large bottled water dispensers like those found in many homes and offices today are breeding grounds for bacteria because they are not cleaned properly. When the five gallon jug is empty, another is simply placed in the cooler without the cooler being cleaned. A few sneezes from a cold can result in huge colonies of bacteria in coolers.
The best solution is to trust yourself with an effective water filtration system in your own home. To be effective, you must remove the types of contaminants listed above. There are many different water filters on the market. For practical reasons, you can remove all pitcher-type filtration systems and most water filters that you can buy at your local home supply stores. They just don’t do a good job when it comes to safety. The remaining filters are Countertop, Under Counter, Shower, and Whole House Filters. The first step is to do a complete water test of the water that comes into your home. Test kits are in the $ 100 price range. Once you know the problems with your water, you can buy a filter that really solves your specific problems.
Your own water filtration system will ensure that you have pure and safe water no matter what happens to the water infrastructure and in the political arena.