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Water Wars

Posted by Neno Duplan

California. California is now heading into its fourth year of record-breaking drought, with no water relief in sight. High temperatures, little precipitation, and historically low snowpack have left the state with dwindling water reserves. The situation is so bad, as NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti wrote in an LA Times op-ed last week, that California has only a year of water left in its reservoirs. Household water rationing is already planned.

Las Vegas. An ongoing drought and the Colorado River’s reduced flow have shrunk Lake Mead to its lowest level in generations. The reservoir, which supplies 90% of Las Vegas’ water, is ebbing as though a plug had been pulled from a bathtub drain. For six years, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has been building an intake pipe below the reservoir’s two existing pipes. Due for completion in fall 2015, critics say it may not provide a long-term solution.

Ireland. Tens of thousands of people marched in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday, 21 March 2015, in the latest protest against the government’s new water charges. The government has begun directly charging households for water use.

Detroit: In bankrupt Detroit back in June the city authorities decided to cut off supply to 200,000 homes who had not or could not afford to pay water bills. Since water charges were introduced a decade ago bills have soared by 120%. The UN condemned the cutting off of the water supply to these people as a “violation of the human right to water and other international human rights”.

Bolivia. The average price of water quadrupled after it was privatized, leading to civil unrest and the eruption of “water wars” in the city of Cochabamba.

Uruguay. The sell-off of water and subsequent rising prices led in 2004 to the government outlawing the privatization of this public utility.

France. The citizens of Paris voted to reject plans to privatize water and took the utility back into public ownership.

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