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article imageBlue Communities Project highlights water issues Special

By Moushumi Chakrabarty     May 1, 2009 in Environment
The necessity of keeping water public is one of the main thrusts in the Blue Communities project launched by the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
This initiative follows closely on the heels of a report entitled ‘Bottled Watergate: Why is the Federal Government spending millions of tax dollars on bottled water?’, released by Ottawa-based think tank Polaris Institute and CUPE. (see story). More than $7 million have been spent on bottled water by different government departments, it was reported.
“The purpose of the Blue Communities Project is to draw the public's attention to the issue of bottled water, and the problems that it creates, as well as pointing out that it is in an individual's self-interest to choose tap water over bottled water,” said Chris Maxwell, volunteer chapter activist in Halifax .
The project features a speaking tour of the Atlantic cities of Halifax, Wolfeville, Mahone Bay, Charlottetown, St John and St John’s from April 29-May 7. Well known water activists like Meera Karunananthan, National Water Campaigner, Council of Canadians, Corina Crawley, Researcher, CUPE National, Danny Cavanagh, President, CUPE NS, Wayne Lucas, President, CUPE NL and Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional Organizer, Council of Canadians are speaking at the event. They will focus on how communities can become Blue Communities by resisting private-public partnerships, banning bottled water and water as a human right.
"We address the environmental impact of transporting water out of the home watershed, and of plastic bottles.
We talk about water as a human right, we discuss the safety of bottled water versus tap water and finally, we draw people's attention to the fact that bottled water costs more than gasoline, and that tap water is close to free.
“Public water provision is cheaper. This is logical because profits from the operation in a public system have nowhere to go but the system. By its very definition, a profit-motivated organization is either going to be regulated to receive a profit, which pulls resources out of the system, or if forced to compete, is going to exact that profit at the expense of short-term quality, or long-term investment,” said Maxwell.
“Public water systems are safer because there is a public to answer to when the enterprise fails. Shareholders are poor guardians of the public welfare. Also, public water systems are more stable. A public system is looking forward to providing this service for the next 50-200 years because it is fundamental to its existence to provide the service.
“Therefore they proactively invest in the system and you have less surprise failures. A for-profit company is invested in providing this particular service as long as there is no other more profitable function to serve. Therefore, they are looking at a time-frame of between 1-4 years with certainty that they will be operating this service, and so parts that wear out after 10, 20, or 50 years do not receive proactive maintenance. This leads to sudden catastrophic failure when they either stay in the business longer than expected, or when the expected lifetime is longer than the actual lifetime,” he pointed out.
More about Water, Bottled Water, Tax dollars, Tap water, Municipalities
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