Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water
March 2007, Jossey-Bass
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"...an interesting read, well-written and thoroughly documented… completed by 50 pages of careful notes and references, helpful and informative." (World Business, March 2007)
Is water a human right or a commodity to be marketed for profit? Should water be run by local governments or by distant corporations? Why do we pay more for bottled water than for gasoline?
These are some of the tough-minded questions Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman first asked in their provocative and memorable 2004 documentary, also titled "Thirst."
In their new book, the authors investigate how the growing "water business" is trying to privatize water systems in cities scattered across the United States.
More often than not, local citizens don't even know their water is being sold. But when people do know what's happening, they form powerful coalitions, fueled by indignation and outrage. In the process, citizens rediscover some of the basic principles of democracy, namely, that they should have a voice in their government.
This is the cautionary tale the authors tell through their vivid descriptions of eight conflicts over water -- from Stockton to Atlanta, Ga.
Should we worry about these new water wars? Yes. Water is not only a limited resource; it is also necessary for biological survival.
"The current conflict between corporations and citizens movements to control this precious resource," they write, "will be decided in the years to come. The outcome of the conflict will surely be a measure of our democracy in the 21st Century."
They're right. See their film. Read this important book. Then decide if you agree that public control of water is essential for our health and the health of our democracy. (San Francisco Chronicle, Excerpts of a review by Ruth Rosen)"As a congressman from the Great Lakes region, I appreciate this timely and important work on a critical public policy question: Is water a natural resource to be protected by the public realm, or is it just another commodity?"
—Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Ohio
"A riveting and engaging account of one of the most important environmental issues of our time: Will corporations or citizens control our water?"
—Carl Pope, executive director, Sierra Club
"A smart, gripping narrative of the way 'big money' is cornering the market for life's basic ingredient. It will shock you—and it should!"
—Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, and author, The Global Class War
"The fight for the right to water has hit the U.S. heartland and this passionate, information-packed book tells the story of ordinary Americans engaged in extraordinary struggles to save their water heritage for future generations. Every American should read it."
—Maude Barlow, chair of Council of Canadians, and author, Blue Gold
"Who really owns your water? It may not be who you think. Read this provocative and insightful book and find out about the politics and economics of growing attempts to privatize our most vital public resource—the stuff that comes out of your tap."
—Peter Gleick, president, Pacific Institute for Development, Environment and Security
"A terrific read—startling and motivating. Thirst helps us see that the fight for the right to water is in fact a struggle for democracy itself. Read Thirst and dive into the twenty-first century's core challenge: Do we save ourselves by the market's logic, or as citizens do we deepen democracy's logic?"
—Frances Moore Lappé, author, Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life