September 24, 2015

Signs We Are in the Century of Water.

Century of Water 1
Water wars seem to be popping up everywhere. From fracking, to California’s drought to water shut-offs in bankrupt Detroit, the topic of water rights keeps expanding.

Even the UN is acting as our “canary in the mine” by warning us that two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under “water stressed” conditions by 2025.

That’s only 10 years from now!

We are water and we need water to survive.

When I was growing up by the Great Lakes (Cleveland, Ohio, to be exact), water scarcity never used to enter my mind. We’re spoiled here, and fresh water always seems to be in an abundance.

Much like air, no one really cares about water until their access to it is being threatened.

This was a common belief in Ohio. That is, until last summer when algae blooms in Lake Erie, near Toledo, brought water use in that area to a temporary halt. After this, people in my area started to open their eyes to our neglect of Lake Erie and our always-abundant access to fresh water.

I believe everything happens for a reason. While I was chatting with a friend overseas about what was happening in Toledo, they brought another water crisis to my attention: the water rights movement happening in Ireland.

Yes, you heard that right—green, vibrant, always rainy Ireland.

Since the EU bailout, the Celtic Tiger has basically been burned alive in front of a crowd of confused citizens. When the banks approached the Irish government during the bailout, citizens were in bed while their elected government officials agreed to take on about 40 percent of the EU’s debt. Since then, austerity measures have been piling up on the backs of Irish citizens.

While we all know austerity has already come to the U.S., what’s happening in Ireland is equally infuriating. These cuts in public spending and hikes in taxes are hitting the most vulnerable people in Ireland the hardest.

It wasn’t until direct water charges came into play that citizens in this lovely, green but corrupt country finally said, enough is enough.

Ireland is one of the few countries in the EU that doesn’t have any water poverty. This is not only because it’s wet, but also because residents have always paid for their water through taxes. Since direct water charges were introduced, residents’ taxes have not been decreasing. On the contrary, they’re being charged directly by a semi-state company called Irish Water.

Rather than lying down, community organizations, trade unions and political parties are standing up in one strong message, saying, water is a human right.

I’m a journalist by trade, so when I heard about what was happening in Ireland, my digging led me to another realization: Not only is Ireland’s media ignoring this human rights movement, but the laws, infrastructure and leaked documents also show that Ireland’s water is being set up to be privatized.

Anyone who knows about water privatization knows this is a very bad thing. Much like with oil, companies are now making a grab for water.

The only difference is we don’t need oil to survive.

Oil isn’t a basic human necessity; water is.

Century of water 2

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve grown tired of the people with the deepest pockets dictating the future of our planet and our survival. After reaching out to citizens in Ireland and those involved in the Right2Water human rights movement (that has grown to hundreds of thousands strong), I see that they are also sick of this status quo.

It no longer serves us, and it certainly isn’t helping Irish citizens. It’s time for solutions.

As the human rights movement in Ireland has used peaceful protests to turn a grassroots movement into a national one that is gaining major traction, I think it’s time to learn from what they’re doing and bring it back to the U.S.

Water flows, removing any obstacles that may get in its way. It bleeds out of cracks in the Earth’s surface. Rather than going to war, it cleverly circumnavigates any barriers that may block its path. If these paths are immovable, then it slowly wears away the blockage’s foundation until, one day, this obstacle gives way to water’s wishes.

In a place where it rains 365 days a year, the people of Ireland have copied water’s essence and its fortitude to always find a way to flow.

From California, to Detroit, to Cleveland, to Ireland and to Africa, the century of water is upon us.

Rather than going to war, I think everyone can capture water’s essence and use it to connect us under one common belief: Water is a human right. A human right worth fighting for.

As a storyteller and filmmaker, it’s my goal to bring the stories in Ireland and the U.S. to a mass audience and show everyone how they can take power back and protect their right to this precious, life-giving resource.


Further Reading:

A recently released article about how much companies will be paying when Ireland’s water is privatized.

A video with a member of parliament talking about water privatization in Ireland.

An article that shows a leaked document about Ireland’s water being en route to privatization.

An article that also talks about the leaked documents.

An article about the most recent Right2Water demonstration.


Relephant Read:

Food Grows where Water Flows.


Author: Katie Young

Editor: Toby Israel

Photos: Used with Permission from Detroit Water Brigade


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