We know our water supplies are dwindling. The World Health Organization reports that over one billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, and nearly 2.5 billion people lack adequate sewage and sanitation services.
Water scarcities around the globe have prompted border and ownership disputes over this vital resource. Water shortages are evident in areas such as: the Middle East, Northern China, Mexico, California and Africa. Countries are fighting over the borders of water reserves, including in the volitile Middle East, where Israel and Lebanon both tap into a tributary of the Jordan River. Another similar border dispute is taking place between the United States and Mexico over the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers.
Many questions have emerged: Is access to water a given right, or can it be treated as a commodity? Shouldn’t all people have the right to drinkable water? Many have compared the precious resource to oil; but, unlike oil, which serves primarily as an energy source, water cannot be so easily substituted with alternatives. It’s apparent that water is being consumed at an unsustainable rate, and we need to control the demand of its limited supply. But, does that mean we slap a price on it, and restrict its access to those that cannot afford it, while corporations are profiting from its revenues? We know that by allocating water as a free resource, there will be consequences of exploitation and unsustainable consumption of the resource. Whether water should be a public or private resource, the fact remains that we must protect that most precious of natural resources, water.