This is a call to action.
Today is World Water Day, an initiative that emerged out of the landmark Rio Conference in 1992. The day is marked by local campaigns by people coming together to support the right to water and demonstrating the need to make explicit the collective right, humans and nature, to water.
How do you steal a bottle of water?
Who are you stealing from?
And what are you stealing?
Who stole it first?
Water is a collective right.
Good and bad ideas came out of the eighties among them excessively large shoulder pads for women, stadium rock, neo-liberalism, The Never Ending Story, privatisation, George Michael, Cindy Lauper, a few of the kids on campus, and bottled water.
You pay once. You pay twice. You pay.
Urban water networks have dramatically changed the way the living environment organises itself to the extraction of water from the physical landscape and environment. Yet we have agreed to the use of these urban water networks as a public utility for public benefit. And we have agreed to the charge, the tax and metered costs of use for this service which regulates access to water – by paying our quarterly Coliban Water (the public water authority) bill. We understand they manage the water supplies for all of us to ensure access to clean healthy drinking water. But then a company like Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the largest manufacturers of bottled water, take water from the public system for themselves. They don’t manage the water distribution network, nor are they as regulated as the water authorities. They disrespect the resource and they take no responsibility for the environmental and subsequent social consequences. They make a mockery of our ignorance, oversight, lack of understanding, laziness and addiction to consumption and it costs us $2.00-$10.00 (depends if you’re at a festival) per bottle.
The sale of bottled water, making water the property of a corporation is disregarding the collective right to water for a private right. The price you pay for a bottle of water, in no way related to the cost of mining, transporting and retailing the water, of the cost removing water from the public system. Ridiculous quantities of WATER, OIL and COAL are required in the process – THINK ABOUT IT.
Think before you pay. Think about the debt you are creating and accumulating that will never go away.
As we campaign to become a sustainable society, we need to be able to secure the necessities for life. Australia has one of the best public drinking water systems in the world. Municipal tap water systems, such as Bendigo tap water (managed by Coliban Water), is safer, healthier and more regulated than bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle or two, take it with you, refill it. Write a letter of request to council for more public water fountains (the network is there – it just needs a tap). Write a letter to your university student association, and to the university administration about drinking water fountains available on campus – with any improvements that you see can be made. Greater understanding and action needs to be taken we need to begin to act within a collective imagination.
With this knowledge let us move beyond the event with our actions and practice respect for water, nature, ourselves and others by making considered, informed and mindful decisions, each day of the week. Every decision counts. Every decision costs.