tv Global Water Shortage CSPAN August 20, 2015 1:00pm-2:23pm EDT
families that police themselves should help match some of that money instead of taking the general public's money. >> a couple points there, jason williamson. do you want to start with the police unions? >> sure. you know, i think it's hard to deny that police unions are really powerful and influential across the country. and that they have been an impediment in some ways to reform. if the primary interest or objective of the union is to protect the interest of individual police officers and of their colleagues, that does not lend itself to the kind of accountability that i think is necessary and that communities of color are looking for. and i think that feeds into this
question about holding police officers criminally responsible or imposing some sort of discipline for illegal or inappropriate conduct. to the extent police unions are standing in the way of making sure that officers are held accountable for their actions, i agree that that is a huge problem. tonight our washington journal program focusing on community policing. we'll reair yesterday morning's entire program from richmond, virginia, with your calls and comments. the richmond police chief, the head of their police training academy and richmond mayor dwight jones. the program starts at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. former president jimmy carter held a news conference this morning in atlanta and briefed reporters about his health status. and treatments for brain and liver cancer. we'll show you the event tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. here's some of what president carter had to say.
>> at first i felt that it was confined to my liver and the operation had completely removed it, so i was quite relieved. and then that same afternoon we had an-mile-an-hour of my head and neck and it showed up that it was already in four places in my brain. so i would say that night and the next day until i came back up to emory, i just thought i had a few weeks left. but i was surprisingly at ease. i've had a wonderful life. i've had thousands of friends and i've had an exciting, adventurous and gratifying existence. so i was surprisingly at east,
much more than my wife was. but now i feel -- it's in the hands of god. and i'll be prepared. >> former president jimmy carter from earlier today. you can see all of his atlanta news conference tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern/5:00 pacific on c-span. next, a canadian author and water advocate talks about the california water shortage and the needs for water worldwide. after that, two food justice advocates discuss the content of access to healthy food as a basic human right in the u.s. and around the world. then national institutes of health director dr. francis collins, updates a senate committee on president obama's precision medicine initiative designed to improve treatments for diseases like cancer and leukemia. after that, a hearing on vaccine safety and concerns that they are not safe for children.
this weekend on the c-span networks, politics, books and american history. on c-span saturday, live coverage of presidential candidates at the iowa state fair continues. we'll hear from republican governors chris christie at noon and bobby jindal at 1:00 p.m. sunday evening at 6:30, wisconsin republican governor scott walker holds a town hall meeting in ashland, new hampshire. on c-span2 saturday, book tv is live at the inaugural mississippi book festival beginning at 11:30 a.m. coverage features haley barbour as well as panel discussions on civil rights, history and biographer and the literary lives of harper lee. sunday morning at 10:00, author and columnist katie kiefer shares her discussion on the obama administration on millenials. on american history tv on c-span3 saturday afternoon at 5:00 columbia university's on the peser vags of new york's
cultural, political and architectural landmark and it is history of the commission created to protect them. and sunday at 4:00 p.m. on reel america, three films on the pilot district project, a program administered by the johnson administration to help improve poor relations between the police and the community in washington, d.c. after the 1968 martin luther king assassination and subsequent riots. get our complete schedule at c-span.org. california governor jerry brown recently announced mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history. and the los angeles times reported that the state could run out of water early next year. you're about to hear from a canadian author and water advocate who was a key player five years ago in helping the u.n. declare water a basic human right. food and water watch chair maude barlow recently addressed a mostly student audience at xavier university in cincinnati about what she calls the global water crisis and how to solve
it. maude barlow is the world's preeminent water rights activist. in fact, if you google the phrase water rights activist, she's the first and only person specifically named in the results. she chairs the board for -- or is a member of the council of canadians food and water watch, the international forum on globalization and the world future council. she holds 12 honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards for her work on water rights. most recently the earth care award, the highest international honor of the sierra club. she's highly published and her latest is "blue future." protecting water for people and the planet forever. we are honored to have her here
at xavier. please help me and welcome her. [ applause ] >> wow, thank you very much. i'm absolutely delighted to be here. thank you, mark, for your beautiful words. i'm quite embarrassed that that's true. that i come up first. i am going to look. thank you so much to nancy and ann dougherty and elizabeth for the sustainability committee. thank you so much, james buchanan, for your beautiful words and your work. and and cynthia cummings for the beautiful work you do. and a shout out to edward brewi bruegeman, the founder. i just want to say it's a true pleasure speaking at a university where your stated goals have to be with peace and justice and that's actually up front who you are. it's not that common, actually, so it's just really a treat to be here.
i'm going to talk to you a little bit about the global water crisis. welcome, by the way, to the high school students. we're really happy you guys came here. it's really special you're here. and then i'm going to talk a little bit about what we can do and what we are doing. i want to say to you that i hate it when people my age come to talk to younger people and say, oh, it's doom and gloom and you should just forget about it. there's nothing you can do, tear your hair out. actually, there's lots we can do about the crisis that i'm going to talk to you about. and i do deeply believe that hope is a moral imperative. if i share with you some of the bad news, it's because i'm going to then share with you what i think we need to do about it. but i do think we need to face the actual dimension of the crisis. we have seen an enormous increase in the amount of water that we are using as a human species in the last couple decades.
a 50% increase in withdrawals in a very short time. we are seeing what some of us are calling running dry. we're seeing massive pollution of our surface water and even massive pollution of our ground water. i don't know if you know, but in the united states it is legal to dump toxic waste into the ground water sources and a massive amounts are actually being dumped. out of sight, out of mind, i guess, is the thought. but i was sharing today with others that they found an aquifer under mexico city. mexico city is in real trouble waterwise. they've taken out all the water under the city but they did find another aquifer. when had they pulled the first cup of this fresh water up, the engineer said they drank it and said, it's delicious and said, this is why you don't destroy your ground water because some day you're going to need it, no matter where you are. we're also damming rivers and pulling up ground water.
i call it ground water mining. way faster than these ground water sources can be replenished. we're damming rivers so that most of the major rivers in the world no longer reach the ocean. where the rivers -- where freshwater meets saltwater is one of the very important spawning grounds for aquatic life. we're doing this for many reasons, but the most urgent demand on water is for food production for the global market economy. it's really important for us to start off with a knowledge of something called virtual water. virtual water is the water that's embedded in the things that we eat or the clothes we wear or computers or whatever. and up until not long ago, the united nations was saying each person on earth uses "x" amount of water. and now we understand that that's probably about one-tenth of the water that we really use. nine-tenths of the water we use it not something we see or
touch. it's imbedded in our dinners and so on. if you sit down as a family of four to a small steak each, you're consuming the equivalent of an olympic sized swimming pool with that steak. this is -- we're beginning now to bring this into the equation and understand what this means. what's happening is like -- kind of like a bathtub. it's a bunch of us sitting around a great big bathtub with water in it and we've got blindfolds and straws and we're drinking up that water really fast. and we think it's fine because there's lots of water and there's lots of water for everybody. and then all of a sudden there's no water for anyone. it's called exponential overuse of something, so you can't see it coming. it's not like one and one makes two. and two and two makes four. it's the exponential overuse of something that's finite. there was a forum held in davos, switzerland, which always
is. and always every year they do research ahead of time on what are the major issues. and they talked to 900 spertsdz around the world. and to a person they said, it's the coming water crisis. it's here in terms of impact. another meeting with u.n. of the ban i can moon ban ki-moon, the secretary-general, brought 500 scientists together and said, what we're doing now is what they call plan tear transformation, as great a change in the world and planet as the melting of the ice age. and they also in a separate different study, this one done through the world bank, the statistic that stunned the world at the time was two years ago is that by 2030 the demand in our world for water will outstrip supply by 40%. this is just almost impossible to try to understand. and, of course, you stop and think about who's going to do without. it's going to be the poor. it's going to be the
marginalized. it's going to be the people around the edges. it's going to be the people in slums, the massive slums of the global south or the people in poor communities here in north america. it's also going to be the animals, it's going to be the species that can't survive easily without water. so i just want to give you a few examples of what we're talking about. india is in terrible trouble. 60% of all of their water for farming comes from irrigation, so they're pulling up ground water and damming their rivers very seriously. depleting water in some places by five feet a year and literally in some of the states beginning to run dry. china, 75% of all their surface water is polluted. here's a stunning new report that since 1990, half of the rivers in china have disappeared. what do you mean disappeared? they're gone. they're disappeared. that's partly from hydroelectric coal, mining for hydroelectric
power. but it's also because they're using their water and their air and their soil to produce so much of the stuff that then gets sent around to the rest of the world. there are two lakes i want to tell you about. one in soviet union, so big a lake it was called a sea. the other is lake chad in south africa. once the fourth largest and sixth largest lakes in the world now almost nothing, both of them just down to a bare trickle. in each case it wasn't climate change, as we have come to understand it. it was absolute overextraction. the story that most disturbs me right now is brazil. brazil has been, until recently, considered the country with the most water. the most water-rich country in the world. they never had droughts. tons of water, right? they have the aquifer, they have the rain forest, they have a massive area between the rain forest that holds a tremendous amount of water. but suddenly sao paulo, the
second biggest city in brazil with about 20 million people living there, has gone dry. when i tell you in the last two years -- there was no problem two years ago, three years ago, it's going dry. there's been massive drought for the last few years right across brazil. it turns out because they are cutting down the amazon. what we now know is when you cut down forest or rain forest or vegetation, it changes the hydrologic pattern. these rain forests give off massive amounts of humidity and vapors. ask they form what they call flying rivers. you got to try to think of it as a river in the sky. being held up by air, by air currents, but then it can travel thousands of miles and then it delivers rain to sao paulo and other places. where, they're cutting down that amazon in the rain forest because they're growing massive amounts of sugarcane and soybeans to make ethanol to put in cars, not only in brazil but around the world.
so much of this is for export. so, again, not only cutting down the trees but taking up massive amounts of water in the form of virtual water. and basically sending this water away. the great lakes, a very big issue for those of us living -- you guys live about as far away from the great lakes as i do. i live in ottawa, canada, so we're about equal distant to the great lakes. not far. the great lakes are in very serious trouble. we have invasive species, massive pollution, but we also have overpumping, overexploitation of the water system itself. i won't give you too many studies but one study on ground water taking said if the ground water is being pumped, the great lakes, and i quote, could be dead dry, bone dry, in 80 years. if you've ever stood on the bank of the big lakes, superior and michigan, so on, you cannot imagine, but that's why i told you about the aerial sea.
we're also dealing with that blue-green algae. you read about it in toledo last summer. they're expecting it may come back this summer. this comes from industrial farming, chemical-based agra business where we do not have proper regulations and this stuff -- these nutrients are running off into our water systems. there are 67,000 square miles of agriculture, agribusiness around the great lake basin and it is poisoning them. the match that we thought we got rid of in lake erie is back and it is a very serious issue. you probably know your own ohio river has been named the most polluted body of water in the united states states for seven years running. i know there's a tremendous amount of work being done in cincinnati and in the state on renewable energy and on this being a kind of very exciting area for high-tech solution to
our water problems, but we are not stopping the water pollution at its source. we need to understand this. there's 23 million pounds of chemicals were dumped into the ohio river last year. we have to -- we have to find a way to stop this. martin luther king said many wonderful things but one he said was that legislation may not change the heart but it will restrain the heartless. sometimes i see people doing wonderful things but their government still will not stop the people doing bad things from doing those bad things. and it's like you can't catch up because you can't keep up with the destruction taking place. so, we absolutely need to regulate and say, nobody's going to be allowed to do that to these lakes. and the recent concern that i have is the great lakes are increasingly being used what i call a carbon corridor to move the dirtiest energy on earth by train, by pipeline around and even under the great lakes and most recently being shipped on barges and in ships on the great lakes.
this is alberta, the tar sands we're in our country because this is an oily, thick substance and the only way to get it through pipelines is to lace it with liquid chemicals. when they spill, they make massive, massive dead zones and create terrible pollution. now the coast guard in the united states has given the okay to ship on ships on american waterways waste water from fracing, which is amongst the most volatile substances that we can. to my mind, when we know what we know about the water system, the water situation, the water crisis in our world, how we can do this continues to be just stunning to me. colorado, colorado basin, lake mead, the reservoir that was created when the hoover dam was
built, all of these are down. there's a new nasa study saying they have taken down enough water -- ground water out of the colorado basin to provide all the water that's needed for all american households for eight years. i mean, that's just -- we just put bore wells down, and we drink this stuff up. there's 200,000 bore wells in the ogallala aquifer that goes down the spine of the u.s. down to the texas panhandle. again, building massive industrial farms to grow corn for corn ethanol and pumping up that ground water with pumps that weren't designed until the late 1950s, so before that they had no ability to pull up that ground water. it's only in, you know, 70 years or whatever that we've been able to green the desert in that way, but there's a terrible price. and the terrible price is that the department culture here in the united states said two years ago that the owing lal la aquifer will be gone in our lifetime. you try to say that to people who farm there or who live there. you know, it's going to be gone.
and people say, i don't know what you mean. yesterday the los angeles times f this isn't a headline that won't get to you, i don't know what, but their headline, major editorial said, california has one year left of water. are we ready to ration yet? look it up. don't believe me, look it up. how can we get up every morning and say it's business as usual? it's not business as usual. just go back to the people in sao paulo. i visited some communities and they get their water now -- this is from a water-rich area two years ago, three years ago, they have water from 5:00 to 6:00 in the morning. just a trickle. then it's turned off. they have water again from 10:00 to 11:00 at night and you better need to do whatever you need to do that needs water or collect it in those two hours because that's the water you get. but you don't have to go that far away. i've been working with the people in detroit, michigan, who have had their water cut off, many thousands of them.
we got a moratorium. we got the u.n. involved and brought u.n. experts to actually look at what's happening. but this is an area where a lot of money left the inner city. most of the people left behind are poor, mostly african-american, older people or single mothers, very high unemployment. they don't have the funds, and so the city near bankruptcy then, now in bankruptcy, doubled the price of water. people cannot afford it. so they're coming in and they literally go house to house and turn the water off. and try raising kids, try looking after somebody ill with no water. so, it's not just happening far away. it's happening in the so-called rich parts of our world, in north america as well. these are real issues, and there's again just the last of these stats that i -- another nasa report that just came out last month reported that there is an unprecedented mega drought coming on the -- in the midwest
in the united states and parts of canada. the great plains and the southwest over the next few decades. and they say that it will last decades. it will be unlike anything in living history or living memory. now, here's a prediction i have for you. you got a presidential election coming up. i predict this issue will not be on the table. i predict that they will not speak about it and they will not write about it and they will not be asked about it in debates. now, why is this? well, i just have four thoughts on why this might be. the first is what i call the myth of abundance. we all learned back in grade six or whatever that there's this finite amount of water. it can never be destroyed. it's the same -- not only the same amount of water but the exact same water that was here at the beginning of the planet and it goes around and around and we all had this kind of diagram in our heads. so it's almost like a big river around the earth. you could just stick all the straws you want in it. so, we learned that we couldn't
run out. and i also think that in the global north or the west, or whatever you want to call us, we tend to think there will always be a technology that will fix it. but that is -- that myth is deep and rooted and it's really hard to get rid of. secondly, we tend to see water as a resource for our pleasure and profit and convenience. we don't see water as the element that is necessary for life. we don't respect water. we don't think about it. we don't care about it. it exists to serve us, period, full stop. one of the advisers to president hoover when they were building the hoover dam and those other big mega dams said america will be great when she lerndz to conquer her rivers. so this whole notion that water is here to be conquered for our economic model is really a
powerful one. i also think that we have misdiagnosed the water crisis. if you talk to environmentalists involved in climate change, they say water is a victim of climate change induced by greenhouse gas emissions. that's true. the melting glasiers and ice packs is true. what's missing from the diagnose is that when we take water and from water-retentative land escapes, when we move it to where we want it, that's the story in california, they have enough water, they're moving it all over the place so they can produce 85% of all the almonds for the entire world, right, in a state running out of water. so, as they say, water runs uphill to money, right? so, we have a situation where we're misdiagnosing what the situation is. and our mistreatment, our displacement, our abuse of water is one of the major causes of climate change. and it's really very, very much past time that we started putting this in the mix and that we started talking about water and the way we treat water and how we could undo what we've
done as one of the answers to climate change. finally, i would have to say to you, in terms of reasons for our politicians not talking about this, ours don't either. i'm not suggesting it's just here in the united states. i think it's very common, except in a few countries where they're just facing water shortage, like the water is running out now. but it's the dominant model of economic development, which says more growth, unlimited growth. i mean, we can just keep going forever. more trade, more stuff, more market economy. i want my strawberries in january and i don't care where they come from or who it costs. so, we have this notion that we can have all things at all times. we have created a global economy which is basically, i would argue, not only creating enormous wealth gaps between rich and poor. do you know that in the year 2000 there were 111 billionaires
in the world. there are now over 2500 billionaires in the world. 15 years, what does that tell you about policies of the 1%, for the 1%, and by the 1%, right? i would ar gut way we grow food for a global market is like putting a huge pipe in our water systems and sucking that water up and taking it away. remember, when you grow food for -- when you use water to grow food, you're consuming that water. that water does not get returned to the watershed. so, what do we need? well, i call for a new water ethic. and a new water ethic would say that water is not just a resource, as i say, for our pleasure and profit and convenience, but it is the essential element that gives us life. and it is to be respected and revered. and we need to come up with a new relationship with water. we also, and if i were queen of
the world and could make every leader in the world do as i say and save the world's water, all policy, and this has to happen at all levels -- municipal, state, federal, international -- all policy has to ask the question, what's the impact on water? our energy, using foss sill fuels is not only bad for air. everybody knows that. it's terrible for water. fracing uses, destroys, abuses, huge amounts of water. growing corn for ethanol, it takes 1700 gallons of water to make one gallon of corn ethanol. yes, okay, maybe that's a better use for your car, but it's the water footprint it's leaving is not worth it. i would argue that ethanol is worse than foss siil fuels beca of the way it's treating water. we must not set up this air versus water kind of reality. what would it look like if we asked the question about the impact on water of food
production? well, i'll tell you what it would look like. we'd have to stop using chemicals. we wouldn't have any more toledo green water if we stopped putting -- if we stopped having those factory farms, if we stopped putting all those .ú narcotics of every kind into animal feed and so on. if we went back to the way we know how to grow food, more local, more sustainable, family farms, organic, and food for local consumption, we could take -- we could cut the water consumption of the world in half. so, what would be the -- what would be the question, then, is always, what is the impact on water of these trade policies? what if we took into account, okay, all trade maybe isn't the same. say i've got a white shirt coming from this country and a white shirt coming from this country and they both took the exact same amount of water to produce. but the water -- but the water in this country is almost gone,
and so that shirt is coming at the price of the local people's water rights. in this country, they still have water, so it's not quite the same. so, we don't ask that question. they never ask the question in these trade agreements, are we protecting our natural resources? are we protecting our people? we also have to declare water to be a public trust. public trust is a very old concept in the united states. very deeply entrenched, particularly in the northeastern states. less so in the southwestern states where they have more of a first to come here got the rights to water sort of thing. but public trust basically says that water is a commons. it belongs to all of us. and governments must protect it in the name of the people for all and for future generations. now, that doesn't mean that you can do whatever you want. it's not a commons that you can, you know, say, well, i can abuse it because it doesn't belong to anybody. we're fiercely going to have to
protect this commons. and we're going to have to say, what is the -- what is the -- what are our priorities for having people having access to this water? because you just can't have it for anything anybody wants it for. i give you an example of vermont. i worked on this legislation. the state of vermont has beautiful water. lots of ground water. but a few years ago they had a whole bunch of bottled water companies coming in, setting up a plant and drinking the local water source until it was gone. they were really concerned. so, they brought in legislation that their ground water is a public trust. they actually said, to protect it, we're going to give priority to water for people's daily needs, water for protection of the ecosystem and water for local food production, not for big agra business making money and sending our food far away. they had that hierarchy of access. they were just able to use their
public trust doctrine because there was a nuclear facility that was leaking tridium into the local water source, and the company -- the nuclear company said, yes, it's our water. we have water rights. the state was able to say, no, the fact we've made it a public trust trumps your private right to dump tridium into this water. so, we're taking it back. so, it was a very exciting -- it's a very exciting concept that we need to go back to and i've been working a lot with a group of people around the great lakes as we want to get the great lakes to be declared a commons, a public trust and a protected bioregion so we stop seeing it as your piece of it, this piece, but we see it as a whole watershed. we need common laws. we need common protections. we need common enforcement. you get enforcement totally different on different parts of the lakes. we need, together to say no more shipping of this extreme energy.
we cannot put this water up at this kind of risk. it's a new way of thinking. thinking in terms of watershed governance, which they're doing in europe. since 2000, all of their watersheds must be governed by committees and legislators from all of the countries that surround these water sources. so it's not my water. i'm only going to try to get this amount. it's going to be our water collectively. at a global level, i'm calling for what i'm now naming a marshal plan for water. you'll know, some of you, that the marshal plan was the major plan led by the united states to rebuild europe after the second world war. i mean, europe was in tatters. and everything from rescuing orphaned children to rebuilding schools and hospitals to putting the economy back together. it was an absolutely incredible endeavor. and we need a marshal plan for water. we need our leaders to come together and say, this is a
crisis. when you read in the -- when you read that california has one year left of water, i don't know what people in california think when they read that. but i think a lot of them are going to be moving here, i guess. we might see american refugees moving from one part of the country to the other. what do we think of when we read that? we have to take this very, very seriously. the united nations needs to set up a separate process for water right now water is linked into and comes under the umbrella of climate change. if you go to the climate summits, and i go to every one of them, all they talk about is greenhouse gas emissions. which is very important. i'm not for a moment negating that. but they don't talk about water as anything but a victim. so they don't hear the stories about how if you rebuilt water-retentative land escapes, if you create a desert, if you bring in the technologies and the techniques we know, put people to work rebuilding, refushing these watersheds, the
rain comes back. it's absolutely miraculous. i mean, there are so many wonderful examples of where we've done this. the key components of this are absolutely at the heart of it would be watershed protection, conservation and restoration. we have to stop destroying our water systems. we have to repair those that have been hurt. natural and international projects to replenish water-retentative landscapes. i'm working with a wonderful scientist in slovakia. he can -- had a lot of land that had been destroyed by bad farming practices, by bad old industrial dumping and so on. he convinced many municipalities and their own federal government to allow a project where they put thousands of people to work rebuilding the kinds of small berms and dams, water retention, water collection, rainwater collection and so on. and they have greened an amazing
amount of the land. same in india. there are many projects where a wonderful man they call the rainmaker has brought back water to just a massive amount of land. a wonderful engineer in southern australia that convinced his government to let him gather all the rainwater, sewage water, put it through massive la goons that were plant with the kind of plants that eat bacteria and poison. they've got so much water. they greened the desert. the birds have come back. the animals have come back. it's a miracle because we need to remember that nature will come back if we stop hurting nature, nature loves us. wants to come back to us as soon as it can. we need food policies that promote local organic, sustainable agriculture. we have to move away from the form of agriculture that we're now engaged in and has been supported by policy in all of our countries. and we've exported it.
there's an area of land three times the size of great britain in africa alone where foreign interests, foreign investors, foreign corporations, foreign governments have come in and bought up massive amounts of land and water and they're using it to grow crops they send -- they sell out of the community. they're using all the same bore well technology that's ruining the ogallala aquifer here. we have to learn. people who have lived for millinia in communities in south asia, africa, know how to live with the fluctuations of rain and dry season. they know how to conserve and they know how to farm dry land. we come in with our technology and we're ruining it. energy sources that don't harm water have got to go. we're fighting the pipelines, you know, the keystone xl
pipeline, which is still a very hot issue and is going to remain contentious through the next election. we're fighting huge other pipelines in canada because they want to move that bitterman, that terrible tar sand stuff from the tar sands in alberta to export markets. fracing is a really dangerous form of energy in terms of water. so, we have to say, we can do better. if we ask the question for energy, what's the impact on water, we're going to come up with different solutions. i also call for in my book the notion of using water as a source of peace rather than a source of conflict. and think about it for a minute. if you stop and think in a world where the demand for water is going straight up and the supply is going straight down, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that maybe there's going to be conflict. maybe there already has been. the deep germ of many of the
conflicts in the world have at least partially to do with water, from syria to egypt to israel, palestine. many, many disputes in africa, disputes in asia are around water or water is a part of it. and water is being used now around the world as a weapon of war. the government in syria has cut the water sources off to the people in aleppo, which is where the original revolution took place. just cut the water. so, if you want to make war on people, you just take away their water supply and there's very little people can do in the absence of access to water. so the question would be, could water equally be a source of peace? could we think of water as nature's gift to humanity to teach us how to live with each other? and maybe, you know, my grandfather was taught to hate
your grandfather and your father was taught to hate my father and vice versa and i'm supposed to hate you, except we both live on this war and it's dying. so maybe instead of expending our energy hating each other, maybe we can come together and build something that saves this river. maybe our kids will live in peace because we'll come together and save this is water source. there's a whole discipline in universities now around water and nature as being forms of peace-making, forms of negotiating peaceful settlements, coming around the concept of governments -- watershed governance and watershed sharing instead of saying, this is my portion and i'll fight you for it. it's like, what's the health of the watershed demand? whatever that is, let's conform to it. let's make that happen. one of my favorite examples is a group called friends of the earth middle east who came together years ago and they got people from all -- members from
all the warring factions, gaza, israel, syria, lebanon, all of them. they came together to say, we're not going to talk history because we wouldn't agree. and we're not going to talk religion or politics because we won't agree. we're going to talk about how to save the water systems in our community. and it's been so successful that there's actually some parts of the wall that have been taken down where people just got to know each other and realized how much more in common they had with one another than they might have thought. we also have to promote human laws that mirror and reflect the laws of nature. there's a whole movement that i'm involved in, a number of really thoughtful, interesting people are creating called the rights of nature. and that is the motion that nature has rights beyond its use to us. yes, there's the public trust, which means we all have common access. we all have equal rights to these common access, but water
rights have rights separately. even if water didn't serve us, water -- water serves other species. water serves itself. nature has its own rights. we've got to stop thinking of ourselves at the top of this chain of command as if we're so important. and how that would be? well, we actually have examples here in north america and around the world where local ordinances are being declared that the local water or the local wetland or the local forest has kind of the status of a human being, right? it has fundamental right. and people are coming around the concept of protecting those rights. somebody said to me, oh, you mean, you can't go fishing because fish have rights? i said, no of course you can go fishing. but you can't fish a species to extinction. that would be the way the law would work. how -- yes, you can take water from that watershed but you can't take so much water from that watershed that you destroy the watershed. have you to leave the integrity of the species or the integrity
of the ecosystem intact. and that's a sea change for us, for we humans. and the more rich we get and the more powerful we get and the more industrialized and the more urbanized and the more consumeristic we get, the more we think that nature is there to serve us. and nature's got a really, really rude wake-up call for us. finally, and then i'm going to stop so we can chat with each other. finally, we have to make real this fight -- this concept of water as a human right. nancy talked about the struggle at the united nations. i was invited in 2008 and 2009 to be an adviser to the president of the u.n. general assembly. that's not ban ki-moon, the secretary-general. general assembly, which is the -- all the countries together, every year elect a president. and that year it was a man named father miguel brackman,
liberation theologians from nick rack what. a wonderful man. he read my first book on water called "blue gold" and he called and said, before he was even president, would you come to new york and meet with me because i want to make a human right. and i said, hmm, do i have time to go to new york and meet with the -- okay, yes, maybe. like, now? can i get on a plane now? fabulous man. we worked with a lovely man named pablo solo, who was the ambassador at that time from bolivia, which a little land-locked country, which had been locked into a water war. that water war where people were killed because the world bank had said, you have to -- you have to take a private water company if you want help from us. so, they brought in this private company and it tripled the price of water. they said, we own the rain and we're going to charge you for the water you catch from the sky. they sent inspectors around.
i mean, these are the poorest people on earth. i mean, this is 85% indigenous. a very, very traditional culture. this is their water from the sky, they're being told they had to pay for it so there was a revolution. the army was brought in. people were killed. it was a real water war. so when the new president, morales, a wonderful man, he assigned pablo to the u.n. father miguel and pablo and i worked together. we built a small team there. and pablo put the resolution to the u.n. general assembly in june of 2010. and it was a very brave thing to do. and it basically said that water and sanitation are fundamental human rights equivalent to all other human rights. water was not included in the 1948 human rights declaration because nobody at the time ever could imagine water would be a problem, right? but for the last number of years it's been pretty clear that not
only is water a huge -- the lack of water a huge threat, but it's the greatest threat, particularly to children. and when pablo got up in the general assembly, and he had formidable enemies, your country was opposed at the time, since changed your mind, but at the time. my country was opposed. great britain was opposed. the world bank was opposed. all these big water companies were opposed. we didn't think we were going to win. he got up to present to the general assembly and he said, there's a new study that says in the global south every 3 1/2 seconds a child dice of wat waterborne disease. he went like this, three fingers and half a finger. everybody realized a child just died. a child just died. you could hear people breathing. it was just absolutely amazing. and then the voting started. at the u.n. when they vote, they sit in their seats and they just press an electronic button and it comes up on a great big board at the front. i was standing at the back, up
in the balcony, holding hands with a couple of my staff saying, we're going to lose, but it's okay. we never thought we'd win so soon. we'll be back in five years. we'll win then. i was sure -- i was preparing them because i was sure we were going to lose. they were in tears. they vote. i was wrong. 122 countries voted in favor. not one country, including the u.s. and canada, voted against, even though they were opposed. they abstained. 41 countries abstained. and the place erupted in cheers. it was an absolutely fabulous moment. and in my opinion, in that moment, the human family took an evolutionary step forward. we said, it's not okay that your child has to die a horrible death of waterborne disease because you couldn't afford to buy expensive water. that's not okay. now, does that mean the day after this was adopted everything was fine? no. in fact, the crisis in detroit has happened since then.
well, we outlawed torture back in 1948 and torture still exists in our world, but it doesn't mean we think it's okay. when we don't think something's okay, we collectively make that statement. and it was really important that as a human family the united nations said, we will strive so that no one has to do without. the only way that no one will do without is if we take care of our water better and we share. this is our task now. it's a huge and very, very powerful one that lies before us. we've had a tremendous success with this. a number of countries, mexico being the most recent, have adopted the human right to water in their constitutions or in separate laws. a number of countries have set out plans to move forward. we have -- had a wonderful success with a group of first nations, indigenous people in,
which has the calahari desert, and bushmen, hunter gatherers that live very much the way their an sancestors did. the government tried getting them out of the desert because they found diamonds in the desert. they were beginning to frac in the desert and they wanted the people gone. when people wouldn't go, they kept coming back. no matter what, they came back and they smashed their water bore wells and passed a law saying anyone bringing water to the bushmen would be put in jail. it was a terrible violation of their human rights. they went to court with a group named survival international. they won the right to go back to the desert, but they didn't get their right to water. but after the u.n. adopted the human right to water and sanitation, we all went back to the supreme court and armed with this new -- this new right, the
people, the first nations, the indigenous people there, won the right to have their water reopened. and they were returned to the desert. it's a really marvelous marvelo sto story. saying we know what we stand for and will take nothing less than these fundamental rights. we don't want the whole world. we don't want to be competitive. we don't want all your stuff. we want to live our lives the way our parents and grandparents and their parents lived and we want and need water for this. and so as, you know, when i think about my own life i guess i think of a few highlights. and i can tell you that being part of that struggle was a very deeply moving one for me and for everyone involved. so just vision this vision i have on a water ethic based on water conservation, watershed restoration, watershed governance, putting water at the
center of absolutely every policy saying what is the impact on water, and if it isn't okay, go back to the drawing boards. water is a public trust and a commons. nobody has the right to appropriate it for private property, to gather it up and collect it and sell it for personal profit when other people are dying because they don't have access to it. and water is a fundamental human right. not just for this generation, but for generations to come, which is why i called it forever nancy. nancy loves -- it's a little bit cheeky to write a book saying how to protect water for people in the planet. and i put for everyone. and my husband andrew said that's pretty strong. i said, well, do you want me to like for a hundred years? it's got to be forever, right? we better think about it forever. we better do what indigenous people do and think seven generations ahead. so i'm going to end the formal part of this with my two favorite quotes. and then we have time for a
discussion, i think. so i'm going to just -- there's so many wonderful. i'm going to give you three quotes. just because i have enough time. one of them is from a a writer who talks about watersheds. i just love this. he says watersheds come in families. nested levels of intimacy. on the grandest scale the hydrologic web is like all humanity, ser bs, russians, indians, amish, the billion souls and the people's republic of china. it's hard to know how to help. as you work upstream toward home you're more closely related. the big river is like your nation, a little out of hand. the lake is your cousin, the creek is your sister. the pond is your child. and for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, you are married to your sink. then there's the late great carl
sagin. wonderful environmentalist. anyone who used to watch him on television will remember he used to talk about billions and billions of stars. he would make nature and science come alive. he was a wonderful man. he said this, he said anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you cannot breathe the air and drink the water. don't sit this one out. do something. you are by accident of fate alive in an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet. and that would be my message to you guys, the younger people in the room. it's not like me saying, okay, we're handing over this problem to you. this is generation to generation. we do this together. but we are given a gift of a challenge here. and that's how i see it. i don't see it as a problem. i see it as a gift that we can come up with the answer that is needed. and we can. and the last quote, and i love the best, this is from tolgan.
"lord of the rings." this is gandolf who see himself as a water steward. he's talking about what it means to be a steward of nature, of the earth. this is the night he's standing there, some of you will remember, and the terrible army's coming. this is the deep, you know, the one in the second movie where they're going to all living things, all good things, all things of nature could be possibly destroyed. i don't know about you but for me the books are very much about nature, the assault on nature and nature fighting back when the trees fight back, it's nature fighting back. here's what he says, i want to leave you the formal part of this with this thought. ga gandolf says all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care.
and for my part i shall not wholly fail in my task. if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in the days to come. for i too am a steward, did you not know? thank you very much. [ applause ] so now we have time to chat. and we have two wonderful people who are going to bring the mic around. and don't be shy. questions, arguments, yes, right he here. >> thank you for your presentation. you outline a very comprehensive and interesting approach to things that need to be done. my question relates to setting
priorities about where to start. and when i'm thinking is some -- many of these issues are broad, very deep, comprehensive, how would you go about looking at priorities or criteria to determine where you can get the political consensus, what set of goals where you can get the political consensus and the financing to do it? and i'll just give one example that everyone recognizes in this state and in most urban areas, and that has to do with storm water sewers and what's going on. yet in our state the proposed budget that our governor has come up with is basically $10 billion short. there's not any funding for infrastructure.
and in general everyone wants to shrink government, and no one wants to pay taxes. so against that backdrop, any thoughts you have about how to identify the priorities where consensus is low hanging fruit? where you can actually make some progress? i'd appreciate your thoughts on that. >> well, it's a really, really thoughtful and very tough question as a matter of fact. i wish that there weren't the apathy that there were -- that exists now. i'll start with the smaller local. i think people can say, well first of all, learn as much as you can. read, read, read. get your heads around this. i'd send you here in the u.s., if you lived in canada, i'd send you to our website, canadians.org. but go to foodandwaterwatch doifoodandwaterwatch.org. very good information on protection and keeping water in the public hands and leading the
fight on fracking in the u.s., or one of the groups. so starting with getting as much knowledge as you can. for those who are still students or very involved in an institution or high school or university, you can start a discussion around bottled water on your campus. there are many, many campuses around the united states and canada that have actually stopped selling -- excuse me, stopped providing bottle water. not that they ban it, it's your business. but the campus is no longer going to provide it because we have these great drinking -- you know what i'm talking about, the fresh water -- yes, thank you. been a long day. my brain's gone. so that sometimes a way to start that then leads to much greater sensitivity. i was in one university where
students collected small plastic bottles for just one week from the vending machines and cafes and all the areas that existed and they put them end to end, all around the school, outside, all around the university. it was stunning as a visual image this is what we're doing. last year if we were to take all the individual plastic bottles of water that people drank in the world and put them end-to-end to the moon and back they'd reach 65 times. we're talking about plastic when it's not necessary. so sometimes it's what's very particular to you. it could be a local fracking fight. and those are really worth getting involved in because we are winning a number of those. in my country we have moratoriums in quebec, nova scotia, new brunswick. we think we're going to get one in ontario. and maybe one of the prairie
provinces. just been an absolute backlash because we had just put up with those tar sands pollution and people don't want another form of this. so sometimes it can be that kind of a fight. when you get to the larger question you're raising, which is how do we get people to pay taxes, to be prepared to say we have to have the kind of government that's going to put this front and center. do we have to wait until everybody is california? with the signs saying, okay, folks, one year, how about you ready to talk rationing now? are you ready -- i notice they didn't say are you ready, for regulation, we need regulation. i quoted martin luther king, i'll quote again, we need the rule of law. legislation may not change the heart, but it will restrain the heartless. we need law. and we need to get to the place where we elect leaders who will do what's necessary to do. i don't know the easy way to do
that. i do think however if you start at a level that is instructor for you that feels within your grasp, that creates a movement. i spoke at one university in new england five years ago. and a group of the first-year students were so moved and so excited by the challenge that they decided to form a club to get rid of bottled water on their campus. and they invited me last year as the graduate -- they were now graduating. it was their last year. they had succeeded and they wanted to celebrate and have me there. and every single one of them has gone onto other environment al challenges. some have gone into sciences. one has gone into environmental law. all of them from that one experience became dedicated to a larger vision. and it's very, very exciting. but it's hard. and i don't have an easy answer. if i did, i'd be queen of the
world. >> i've got a bogus question for you, but technology is one of the solutions. qatar is just opened a 550-million-gallon-a day-reverse osmosis plant. israel has 250 million gallon a day reverse osmosis plant. tampa, san diego, they're coming up all over the world trading energy for fresh waeter. can you comment on that? >> thank you so much for asking. because i think that the myth of abundance is the myth that technology will fix whatever we're doing. so it's okay because some technology's going to come along and clean it up. it's okay to use up all that water because it will just build de-cell plants and pull it in from the ocean. here's what you need to know about desalination. it's extremely expensive, number one. that's why you don't find it in poor countries that are thirsty. you only fiepd it in rich countries that are thirsty. number two, it's intensely
energy heavy dependent. so it uses fossil fuels to run and that creates more greenhouse gas emissions which in turn hurt water. so it's defeating the very purpose for which it's supposedly being created. number three, what it puts back out into the ocean is a poison brine. because what they do is they take in the seawater with aquatic life, they put it through a heavy reverse osmosis process using chemicals. what they put back is the dead aquatic life, this very intense brine and the chemicals. and it just destroys the fisheries, the coral reeves and so on. one community in australia, their answer was we'll just build a deep water pipe and send it out into the ocean, see no evil, hear no evil, it's gone. so desal, i know it's used very, very much, but i believe it is the technology of last resort. and here's something
interesting. you've heard of peak energy and peak water, here's a new one and it's peak salt. in the arabian states, gulf states, as you say they use almost all of the water used is seawater, desal nated seawater, they have used so much and put this heavy salt brine back into the arabian gulf that they're saying now that they can't get much more water out of it because each time it's saltier and saltier. you say surely it runs to sea, no, it doesn't. they've dammed all their rivers. the natural flushing system that might have helped them is gone. it's like humans we say what can we all do put together that would make it impossible for us to live? and i quote in my book a scientist in dubai who says that if desalination for some reason
were cut off, maybe the price of oil, maybe they discover some cold fusion or whatever and suddenly the money dries up in that part of the world in terms of energy and they don't have the money to desalnate because it's so expensive, guess how much water dubai has? dubai has golf courses and 20-star hotels built on water themes with water theme parks and huge slides and fountains. i mean, it's a water really, really water joyful city in the desert. they have one week's worth of freshwater if the desal water were to dry up. one week. when you stop and think, when you understand it that way, you go to a place nearby, qatar, some of these places that depend on this water. it's lush. oh, my god, the shopping and, you know, the 20-star hotel
because they are, five-star will not describe what we're talking about. and it's all based on teaiers. it's based on something that's not going to survive. we really need to ask these questions around protecting in the first place. which goes back to your question if you're not prepared to protect in the first place, then you're paying to have it cleaned up at some point. or people don't have it. yes. >> hi, maude barlow. this is a little bit of a personal question. so this gets discouraging sometimes when you're fighting the good fight. and when you get down, when you get discouraged, where are you looking for inspiration? and how can all of us help you? how can we help each other? how can we be a community? >> well, that's probably the most important question there is. people ask me sometimes how do you stay cheerful and hopeful in
the face of this. i'm on all these list and there isn't a moment that goes by that i don't get some horrible news about yet another crisis of some kind or another. i always say i come here and i speak to you and get you upset and i feel all better. which is actually true. i hope you're all -- my husband says you mean people deliberately consciously come out and hear you and upset themselves? well, first of all, you have to take time for yourself. you have to find support around you. i believe in joy in activism. i believe in having fun. what's the old sayings, i'm not going to the revolution if i can't dance. i believe in making a community of activists who love each other and care for each other and build a support system for each other and build in fun times and build in that kind of support. i do a lot of traveling in the global south. and i've seen things that will never leave. just, you know, carala -- oh,
i'm forgetting the name of the slum in kenya. which has -- yes, thank you. which has almost a million people there. and they have what they call flying toilets. there's nowhere to go to the bathroom. there's some outhouses that are controlled by local thugs, you have to pay to use it. you know, it's terrible. so they defecate into plastic bags and they just throw it, you know? and everywhere you go there's plastic bags of shit, you know, everywhere. and it's just so hard. and you come home and you say i'm so lucky. you know, i've got a private bathroom i can go in. i've got clean water coming out of the sink. and i've got a shower and a batht bathtub. i mean, i'm so lucky. i find myself being really grateful for having this. and i think that sense of gratitude is extraordinarily important. we have got to stop having a sense of entitlement.
this is gratitude. 2.5 billion people in the world don't have a toilet. i was in a slum in india in bombay, mumbai, they said this bathroom here, this toilet here services 5,000 people. try to even imagine what that means. i don't know what that means. i can't even imagine it. so i guess part of it is being grateful, is being humble. i think we need to love nature and we need to put it in the center of our lives and we need to be grateful for it. we have to be consciously grateful. and we have to find joy in the work that we're doing. and realize that it can be tough. but to my mind it's like you open a door, you see what's on the other side. some people choose to close it and not see. i call it the right not to know. i don't want to know. it's not my business.
i find if you walk through it and you see it, it will hurt. we talked earlier about a wonderful quote by margaret atwood, the wonderful canadian writer. she said the world seen clearly is seen through tears why ask me then what is wrong with my eyes? if you're real ly seeing it, you're going to be sad a lot. but that's a good sad. that's a sad that gets you off your -- out of bed in the morning and off doing something you need to do to make it better. and i have enormous hope. i really do. i'm not just saying that. everything that i've talked about here is absolutely recoverable. nothing here is not recoverable if we start to take action now. >> let me just first start off by saying you're a true inspiration. to students like me, i'm a junior at a high school around here. we're very conscientious about our environmental stance. right now we're focusing on our
watershed. we have a natural prairie. we do a lot of things like that. i'm just wondering how i can personally in my life reduce my footprint on water and how my school itself can reduce its footprint as well. >> well, first of all, thank you. if you say i'm an inspiration, you're an inspiration for me. and that's really, really important that we have this intergenerational friendship, solidari solidarity. no particular generation's going to solve this alone. i expect you know as much as i do about what you can do at your school. my guess is you guys are already doing tremendous things. you know in your home and your school the appliances that are water saving, the toilets and all of that stuff. we all know that cutting down on the length of the showers. the way we grow, you know, what we have in our gardens and our lawns. all of this really matters. this is a more water-rich area. it's not going to be as, you know, crucial here as in some dry places. but all of those things, what
food we eat, cutting down the amount of meat or out is one thing we can do. trying to support local food producers, local organic food is extremely important in terms of the water footprint. helping find energy sources that don't hurt water, all of those things are incredibly important. but it's that sense of knowing that you have a role to play that's most important. i mean, you already are there. you guys are already there by being here. you already have made that kind of conscious decision. and i really, really appreciate it. i think i spoke a little earlier to some of the high school students and i told them about a 95-year-old friend of mine who's been involved in every single fight including the vote for women. i mean, that's her age, right? and she says when any of us get tired she says you cut that out now. she says becoming an activist is a lifelong commitment.
you do it every day. and it's not a fashion you take off now and then. and when she gets really exercised she'll say, oh, fighting for justice is like taking a bath, you do it every day or you stink. which, you know, having made the decision you guys to be part of this, you're already part of the answer. and you're going to come up with answers i haven't that i haven't got. like each of us is going to give something back. new technology, there's wonderful work being done on new technologies. work for porous pavements, parking lots, for recovering dead water. unbelievable technology. small technologies that are just marvelous. so finding a career where you can find a place to both make a living and make a difference is fabulous. just being conscious the way you are i think is great. you inspire me back.
yes. >> i work with the local food and water watch. and with many other groups along the ohio river to keep the corps of engineer from approving shipping fracking waste down the ohio river in barges. despite all our efforts, they approved it. >> i know. >> so my question is, what if anything can we, the people, do to make them change their mind? >> well, it's very difficult when governments refuse to listen. i just stop and think about what we know about fracking waste water from fracking operations. i don't know if you guys know about lack me gantic. it's a small community in quebec. a train year and a half ago carrying fracked oil and some fracking wastewater left the track and plowed into this small town late at night. it was close to midnight. into a local pub that blew up.
it incinerated. it blew up. frac wastewater is explosive. it's not just toxic in slow motion, it is explosive. and they are talking about moving it, storing it all around the great lakes because they fracked so much now they don't know what to do with the fracking wastewater. and now as i say they're talking -- they're now -- the coast guard has given the okay to move it on barges on our water. ships have accidents. it's going to get into our water systems. ships have accidents. it's a form of insanity to allow this to happen. how can communities stop it? we have to make these decisions separately. and how far we're willing to go. sometimes we have to put our bodies up in a peaceful way on
the line. i was involved in the 350.org some of the protests in front of the white house a couple of years ago with bill mcgibbin. and bill would say, okay, maude, come get arrested. and my husband who is a lawyer, keep -- oh, i'm coming to get arrested and he'd say no you're not. because it's not a joke anymore to get arrested. it goes on your record and you're suspected of terrible things and try explaining to a customs officers, well, it was a protest. they don't care. so i promised bill i would get arrested in canada at the first chance. so a year or so ago we held a big protest on parliament hill against all of these pipelines, not just keystone. and it was understood ahead of time that -- because the whole morality play. you know exactly if you do this you'll get arrested. so we worked with the royal canadian mounted police, they're actually called that, and they
wear the red serge and big hats. if any of you come to canada you'll see the rcmp musical ride in front of the parliament buildings. it's very wonderful. but they police parliament. so that's who we were dealing with. so they put up barricades. and they said if you cross the barricade, we'll arrest you. and there was a whole bunch of officers behind there getting ready to arrest everybody. so we had drumming and music. and i had told my lawyer husband that nothing was going to happen. it was really boring and no point in him coming because it was going to be really boring because i had forgotten to tell him i was intending to get arrested, right? so sure enough he shows up and says what's that green arm band you've got and all the people planning to get arrested. i said what green arm band would we be talking about? . so it was an amazing day. we had first nations drumming and music and speeches and then a group of us went to this stage, this fence. and i crossed the barricade. i was one of the first in this very tall, big rcmp officer
said, looked way down at me, a big guy, he said, ma'am, i'd like you to step back over the barricade. i said, oh, i really can't. and he said, no, i'd really like you to step back over the barricade. he leaned down and said, ms. barlow, my wife is a huge fan of yours and if i come home tonight and tell her i arrested you, i will be in huge trouble. i said would you like a note? i said you're going to have to arrest me. i'm really sorry. pick somebody else. like i don't know what to do here. so he put the handcuffs on me and he said are they too tight? i said it's okay i think they're supposed to hurt a little bit. but it's a choice that we -- i'm not suggesting you go get arrested. i'm saying that there are times when we have to stand up and find ways to be there and to save this forest or ak -- it
isn't mine. it belongs to future generations. belongs to other species. belongs to the ecosystem. and we simply have to find stronger ways to express this. and think of all of the changes that have come. the womens movement, the civil rights movement, all of them have come through struggle. not one of them has just been won by a benign sitting down and saying would be nice to have equality. people fought hard for these changes. we're going to have to fight hard for our water. i do. >> you mentioned the corporation in bolivia of a urban public water system. and i had been reading up until a year or two ago about more and more of an effort by
multinational water corporations to do that in the united states in lexington and indianapolis and other places. what's happened lately with the attempt to privatize public water systems? >> well, it's an ongoing struggle. let me just say i have no problem with a corporation or an engineering company building pipes or laying infrastructure. i have no problem with that. we're talking here about private companies running the water service for a profit. i'm totally opposed to that. the idea is profit motive should not be involved in the delivery of water services because it's an essential public service. and it's a public trust. and it's a human right. so what we're saying to the private sector with wonderful technologies that you can come up with. there's many, many roles for the private sector, but i believe that's not a good one. we have two big, big companies from france. and they've got their american
counterparts. they got named american water and so on, but the parent companies are these two -- or the biggest in the world are these two companies. and we've been fighting them for years. a number of municipalities in both of our countries have tried water privatization and decided it was a mistake. atlanta, georgia signed a 20-year contract. and after two and a half years cut the contract and said, you know, get out. the water was coming out brown out of the taps. it smelled. and they were charging a fortune for it. every study that we have seen, every single study shows that privatized water is way more expensive than water run by government agency because they have to build profit. they have to find 15% to 20% profit. either they're going to cut corners, they're going to cut service, they're going to cut the workers -- the number of workers, and they're going to raise -- and, or they're going to raise prices and that's just right across the board.
however, the fight is being won on this front. they call it remunicipalization where it's brought back into public control and there are something like 185 countries in the world -- or municipalities around the world that have now rema nis palized including 40 cities in paris where these two companies come from -- or in france, including paris. paris took their water back out of the hands of the two french water companies. and within a year they were able to lower the water prices for the residential users. it's an ongoing struggle. let me tell you -- i know we have to stop soon because where's nancy? i'm aware of our time. there's a trade agreement called ttip, which is the united states, european union agreement.
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