Water Rights

Water is a necessity of life and private companies are buying up municipal water rights around the world. A human rights activist was recently in Houston to say the human need for water must be defended.

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Charlie Clements has been working on social justice issues for three decades. He founded the International Medical Relief Fund and the International Commission on Medical Neutrality. He is currently the President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. He says there is a need to defend the human need for water for two reasons, first, there is less water available then you may think.

And, he says, of that one percent of one percent, 70% is used for industrial agriculture, 22% is used for industry and the six-point-four billion humans on earth have the remaining 8% for their use. Clements says that leads to the second problem, as he sees it, which is that an increasing number of water systems are ending up in private hands.

Clements says the human rights issue is that as water, a requirement for life, becomes a commodity, its suppliers will be company's responsible to share holders. Nonetheless, he says privatization is not necessarily a bad idea.

And that's where the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee comes in because the companies, quite naturally, want to get a contract that is as favorable as possible. Clements says a bad deal can lead to a heavy financial burden.

Charlie Clements says there are also situations that turn out well. The bottom line, be says, is for the process to be carried out transparently and with citizens fully aware of all the details of the deal.

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