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Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8458-8
304 pages
March 2007, Jossey-Bass
Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water (0787984582) cover image
Out of sight of most Americans, global corporations like Nestlé, Suez, and Veolia are rapidly buying up our local water sources—lakes, streams, and springs—and taking control of public water services. In their drive to privatize and commodify water, they have manipulated and bought politicians, clinched backroom deals, and subverted the democratic process by trying to deny citizens a voice in fundamental decisions about their most essential public resource.

The authors' PBS documentary Thirst showed how communities around the world are resisting the privatization and commodification of water. Thirst, the book, picks up where the documentary left off, revealing the emergence of controversial new water wars in the United States and showing how communities here are fighting this battle, often against companies headquartered overseas.

Read a review...http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/18/RVGS9OHPKT1.DTL

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Preface.

Acknowledgments.

1. Water: Commodity or Human Right?

Battles for Water in the West.

2. Hardball vs. the High Road.

Stockton, California.

3. Small-Town Surprise for a Corporate Water Giant.

Felton, California.

Scandals in the South.

4. The Price of Incompetence.

Atlanta, Georgia.

5. The Hundred-Year War.

Lexington, Kentucky.

New England Skirmishes.

6. Keeping the Companies at Bay.

Lee, Massachusetts.

7. Cooking the Numbers.

Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Corporate Target: The Great Lakes.

8. When Nestlé Comes.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

9. To Quench a Thirst.

Mecosta County, Michigan.

10. Whose Water, Whose World Is It?

Notes.

Resources.

Index.

The Authors.

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Alan Snitow is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. Kaufman and Snitow's films include Thirst, Secrets of Silicon Valley, and Blacks and Jews.

Deborah Kaufman is a film producer, director, and writer.

Michael Fox is a film critic, journalist, and teacher.

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2008 Nautilus Book Awards Gold Winner in the category of Conscious Media/Journalism

"...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

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Thirst the MovieLearn more about the book that is based on the ground-breaking documentary film. View excerpts and reviews, order the film, and find resources on how to fight the corporate theft of water.
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