Selected bad news about water from around the world

Water crisis in Iraq

According to this CBS News story, only about 30% of Iraquis have access to clean water. Accompanying the story is a handy “Fast Fact,”—kind of a printed equivalent of a sound bite—which deepens our insight into this miserable fact by pointing out that the U.S. has spent $1.5 billion dollars on water projects since the invasion four years ago. Are you wondering, like I am, about exactly why all of that money hasn’t produced better results? Well, the CBS reporters that wrote this story may know, but they ain’t tellin’, neither in the Fast Fact nor the article.

Goodbye Lake Superior?

In this posting about a small glacial lake’s “mysterious” disappearance, I noted wryly (’s  default noting attitude) that it’s not like the Great Lakes of North America are disappearing. Looks like somebody put his foot in his mouth! According to a recent National Geographic article, Lake Superior, the biggest and deepest of the fab five, has been shrinking at what is now considered an unprecedented rate and is getting warmer, a fact that alarms some scientists more than the loss of water.

The article notes, but not wryly, that some folks around the mammoth lake suspect that the water is being secretly diverted to the thirsty West! But Scott Thieme, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says that it ain’t so. How reassuring is that? Yes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that’s who I’d go to for the unvarnished truth about water. I guess I don’t really think Lake Superior’s water is being diverted to the West, because I don’t think that could be done secretly, but I’m sure not going to take the Corps of Engineers word for it.

California city rescinds privatization of its water

This San Francisco Chronicle article analyzes the recent 5–0 decision by the Stockton, CA city council to end its four-year-old contract with the multinational consortium OMI-Thames to build and manage its municipal water system. The courts had already ruled against the deal because the company had not filed an environmental impact statement, but OMI-Thames had no friends left in Stockton and would have got its ass kicked out anyway. As the article points out, they did everything wrong, including operating in secrecy and treating people like dirt, oh, and incidentally, doing a crappy job of water delivery.

The article, written by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman—the creators of the anti-privatization documentary “Thirst”— warns us against taking comfort from this isolated incident. While we snooze, the privatization forces are diligently working to take over our water. OMI-Thames is now working in Sacramento, the state’s capital city, to change the pesky old laws that require environmental impact reports, probably kicking themselves for not having taken care of that first.

High-tech company to solve Africa’s water woes!

Not really, but this article is about a Seattle WA company called Clear Water Compliance Services that is raking in the bucks with what the article refers to as its “industrial strength filters.” The company specializes in cleaning up storm-water runoff at construction sites, but the real excitement attracting drooling investors is the possibility that Clear Water could develop smaller versions of its technology that could attract customers from around the world. As the article states:

The company even has a patent pending on a “no moving parts technology” that someone “in central Africa could use out of a 5-gallon bucket in a mud puddle and make drinking water.”

Aside from the sheer lunacy involved in thinking that Clear Water is going to solve the problem of water shortages in Africa with little personal filters, it’s an interesting article: big investors are throwing money at clean water technology, and they don’t make these decisions haphazardly.


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