Waterblogged.info is slammed!

fandWWWhat does a water blog worthy of the name do when the editor-in-chief is slogging through the swamp of endless demands that constitutes an annoying yet relatively lucrative day gig? Why, said water blog links to a really great site like Food & Water Watch–and lets said really great site do the heavy lifting.

But Waterblogged.info, asks the intrigued reader, what is Food & Water Watch all about? Say, intrigued reader, isn’t that what About pages are for? So I don’t personally have to explain every little thing to you? I’m on deadline here.

I can say that, unlike the weepy whiners here at Waterblogged.info, the folks at F&WW are activists, and only to happy to help you be one, too.

Good stuff, with a pile of information about all sorts of water issues.

Breaking news: Company that builds desalination plants defends desalination!

[Below, following this absurdly long note, is a comment on Waterblogged.info’s 3/16/09 post, Desalination: No silver bullet in the Middle East, which links to a National Geographic story that is essentially a skeptical–and reasonable–look at desalination as the solution to the constant droughts and the shortage and maldistribution of water in the Middle East. The email address of the person who left the comment indicates that he/she works for Water Consultants, Inc–a company that can hardly be considered a disinterested party when it comes to debating the pros and cons of industrial-scale desalination.

The editor in chief of Waterblogged.info realized that our response was so incisive, informative, wise, and witty–not to mention self-important, defensive, derogatory, snide, and judgmental–that it could easily be repurposed as a Waterblogged.info entry! Cut and paste and take the rest of the day off! See end of post for more exciting desal info!]

Thanks to the Pacific Institute, http://www.pacinst.org/

Thanks to the Pacific Institute, http://www.pacinst.org/

The corporate shill says:

Your link to the referenced NatGeo article is broken. Pity I would have loved to read who the so-called “experts” were that think that way about desalination plants. Most desalination plants are good environmental citizens, properly regulated and diligently operated where ever they are needed to be a valuable asset to a communities balanced portfolio of water supply options.

Thanks to the PR flak from Water Consultants International, Inc–a company whose business is, per its site, “planning, design and implementation of advanced water treatment (AWT), and membrane and thermal desalination projects”–for pointing out the broken link, which I fixed.

Thanks also for the breathtakingly perfect example of corporate-speak–marred only by garbled syntax, a misspelling, and at least one punctuation and one grammatical error. Not bad for 60 words.

It would be fair to take Waterblogged.info or any other blog to task for referring to “experts” without citing anyone specific. But, National Geographic? Cut me a break.

Hey dude, you want “experts” without the quotation marks? Well, I’ll give you experts without the quotation marks: the fine folk at the Pacific Institute (PI), headed up by Peter Gleick,  one of the nation’s foremost authorities on water. In the institute’s recent report, Desalination, With a Grain of Salt: A California Perspective, the researchers’ take a moderate and cautious position on desalination, one most likely held by the experts dismissed by our pen-pal from WCI. From PI’s site:

The potential benefits of ocean desalination are great, but the economic, cultural, and environmental costs of wide commercialization remain high. In many parts of the world, alternatives can provide the same freshwater benefits of ocean desalination at far lower economic and environmental costs. These alternatives include treating low-quality local water sources, encouraging regional water transfers, improving conservation and efficiency, accelerating wastewater recycling and reuse, and implementing smart land-use planning.

For a humongous amount of information on desal–both fer and agin’–go to Waterblogged.info’s page Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: desalination. There you will find links to papers, articles, videos, and pdfs, that will help you be the center of attention at the next beer-bash when desalination inevitably comes up. A good beginning is a mutimedia presentation by journalist and water expert, Cynthia Barnett, A Tour of Tampa Bay’s Desalination Plant.

Chile: yet another free-market success story!

map_of_chileThe New York Times recently ran a story about mining companies in Chile that suck up all the water in already arid regions–in this case the driest spot on the planet–pollute the rest, and as a result decimate the local agriculture and drive away the inhabitants. (The title of this post is therefore an ironic bait-and-switch, unless of course you think this represents a triumph for unfettered capitalism (which in a sense it is, I guess.)

Chile is apparently a world leader in implementing free-market measures that have removed the bothersome fetters of  government regulation from the claws of business and industry. One result, says the story, is that:

. . . Private ownership [of water] is so concentrated in some areas that a single electricity company from Spain, Endesa, has bought up 80 percent of the water rights in a huge region in the south, causing an uproar.

Ecological and social justice concerns have brought some reversals. This mid-2008 story from the Patagonia Times is a good snapshot of the major battles over water rights in Chile. It’s interesting that the free reign granted Endesa and other companies in 1981 was modified in 2005 in an attempt to protect the public interest. This mid-2008 story from an online Spanish (as in Spain) news source reports that Endesa and its partners were denied water rights in Chile’s southernmost sector, Patagonia, effectively barring them from building five planned hydroelectric dams in a region world famous for its natural beauty.  Coincidentally, there is a banner ad for Endesa currently at the top of the page.

Is there a right to water?

Does he have a right to that water?

Does he have a right to that water?

I apologize to those who might be offended, but it’s hard to think of a more stupid question. It’s a perverse–and lethally misleading–reversal of the real question: Do some individuals have the right to hoard and otherwise dominate a basic component of life and withhold it from others if they can’t pay for it?

Is there a right to air? This isn’t debated because air cannot as yet be sequestered and treated as private property. Thus there is no motivation to establish an intellectual narrative to support the absurdity that privatizing air and allowing the market to determine its distribution is the only rational approach. (Of course, as long as corporations dominate our lawmaking bodies, our right to clean air remains an open question.)

At this point, corporatism dominates not just the world’s economic network, but pretty much the entire edifice of thinking and discourse–the definition of what life is and should be about. They have us believing an endless array of absurd ideas about ourselves and our relationship to the planet and its resources. But the most laughable fiction is that they are there for us and that they should be entrusted with the stewardship of our most precious, elemental substance and that the insane drive to maximize profit above all other considerations is what should determine its distribution.

Witness this recent editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle (from which I ripped off the title) in which the writer frets that the skittish likes of international water conglomerates  Veolia, Suez, and RWE may be frightened off by the specter of a universal right to water and as a result will withhold their water management magic from developing countries. There is so much wrong with this way of thinking–a logical implication, for example, is that definitions of human rights should now be vetted and approved by corporate boards. But let’s just ponder the basic fact that these businesses have a miserable record of failure across the globe.

Look, we–those who inhabit and more or less thrive in rich developed countries and are rarely more than a minute or so from torrents of clean, disease-free water, which is not, by the way, provided by corporations–have the luxury of daintily sipping from our bottles of Evian as we hold heady–and smug and condescending–parlor debates about what should and shouldn’t be a right. If we were suddenly forced to live like billions on the globe–with a meager daily ration of filthy water and watching our children die of malnutrition and dysentery–there would be no question in our minds about a human being’s right to water.

Waterblogged.info’s autoreply

Hello water lovers,

The Waterblogged.info team is out of the office until Thursday, July 24. We’ve split for our annual team-building getaway up the California coast, where we will not talk, write, or even think about water for the entire time. (Actually, we’ll continue to drink it, and due to popular demand, shower with it.) We’ll be convening at a beautiful remote retreat center, miles from any internet access–totally and blissfully offline. (Click on the image to see why John C. Dvorak may need a getaway.)

If you have an urgent need to dog-paddle in fresh water-related content, please contact one of the following reliable sources for intriguing, compelling, and, if you’re anything like the gloomy Gusses over here at Waterblogged.info, depressing reading. (If you’re blessed with a sunny disposition and just here for a good time, read Wacky Water, an article from the New Scientist, and find out why water has to be weird.)

Thanks for your continued interest.

The Waterblogged.info editorial team

From Great Lakes Law, the blog maintained by Great Lakes legal expert, Professor Noah Hall

Big bottled water fights in small towns across America

Learn why you may not be able to play keepers with captured rainwater in this tacky tale of wacky water bureaucrats gone wild. It was written by Daniel Fitzgerald for the Denver Post, and posted by the Web water guru, Michael Campana, who is, in his words, “. . .an inveterate, unrepentant, water wonk. . .” and, by the way, “. . .President-for-Life and Supreme High Armed Forces Commander of the Republic of Campanastan.”

Can You Own The Rain?

Thinking about relocating to the Sunshine State? Read this Time Magazine article before you start packing. Posted at WaterCrunch, accessible and always on tap.

Is Florida the Sunset State?

New water crisis documentary: FLOW (For the Love of Water)

If this new documentary about the global water crisis (link is to five Flash trailers) and the threat of privatization of water doesn’t frighten you, you are:

  1. catatonic
  2. dead
  3. Jack Bauer

    Oh wait, you may also be Jeff Siegal. [After being terrified by the trailers, check out our page of web resources on water privatization from our slowly-but-surely growing Getting Serious with Waterblogged.info series.]

    From the documentary’s site:

    With an unflinching focus on politics, pollution and human rights, FLOW: For Love of Water ensures that the precarious relationship between humanity and water can no longer be ignored. While specifics of locality and issue may differ, the message is the same; water, and our future as a species, is quickly drying up.

    Below are two video segments about the documentary from Pacifica Radio’s essential Democracy Now. Each features clips from the movie and commentary by water expert/activist extraordinaire, Maude Barlow. Barlow, a Canadian—who was probably moved to action by the water profligacy of her fellow citizens (see Waterblogged.info’s Canada: Water hogs of the planet)—is the co-author of the water privatization exposé, Blue Gold, and has recently published The Blue Covenant, described by its publishers as

    “. . .a powerful response to this trend [privatization] : the emergence of an international, grassroots-led movement to have water declared a basic human right, something that can’t be bought or sold for profit.

    (Here is a link to a pdf bluegold2.pdf, a 67-page, very readable white paper with a bibliography, which appears to be a summary of the book’s arguments.)

    Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: Privatization

    Executive summary

    Today we proudly launch Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: Water Privatization, a page of web resources related to the question of whether small groups of people should be permitted to own and control the elixir of life and disseminate it to the rest of the globe for their personal gain. Obviously, we don’t think so, but we feel compelled—like the wimpy-assed, fair-minded liberals we are—to present resources supporting both sides of the argument.

    Non-executive summary

    An urgent call
    The editorial staff just got a call from some nervous Nelly on our advisory board who is concerned that the title for today’s entry suggests that we are generally not serious, and gives the impression that this posting is a departure from a general fare of lighthearted shenanigans. Well, first of all, Mr. Advisory Board Member, Who asked you? With what part of the term advisory board are you unfamiliar? Your job is to be on a list and keep quiet.

    Serious as a shark attack
    But, for the record, we are serious. Dead serious. Serious as a heart attack. Serious as a shark attack. Water is serious business. Or, for folks like entrepreneur/bunco artist Jeff Siegal, it’s just plain old business, and big business at that. The world is rapidly running out of fresh water, and for optimists like Siegal, whose glass is always half-full with a commodity that everyone must have to live, that’s not such a bad thing. Because it will make him, and anyone savvy enough to get his free newsletter, rich. (Waterblogged.info’s incisive and withering response to Siegal here.)

    Many posts ago, we made a sincere commitment to initiate and build a series of Getting serious with Waterblogged.info pages, each dedicated to a specific and crucial water-related topic. We’re happy to report that we nailed the initiation part of this thing, and to date we’ve posted a grand total of one such pages, the future award-winning Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: Desalination. It won’t make you rich, but it will put you at the epicenter of conversation at the next social gathering when the topic of desalination comes up, as it inevitably does.

    Pride and prejudice
    Now, it is with diffident, humble (and other self-effacing adjectives) pride that we announce Getting serious with Waterblogged.info: Water Privatization, the second in our not-so-fast growing series of links to useful water-related web resources.

    If you’re looking for the obligatory long-winded anti-privatization screed, you won’t find it on this post. Don’t get us started, because this will never get posted. Here’s a succinct statement of our editorial opinion: Privatization of water resources and management=sucks. Find out why in the many links on our new page.

    Attention libertarians: Rest assured that your strange economic point of view is well represented. We’re fair and unbiased. We let the facts speak for themselves. Waterblogged.info: we post, you decide.