Review: Whose Water Is It Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands

Whose Water Is It Anyway

“This is a book about hope. It is a story about everyday people defending the water resources of their communities and protecting the broader human right to water by ensuring it is now and forever a public trust, one that must not be allowed to fall under private, for-profit control.”

Whose Water Is It, Anyway? by Maude Barlow is equal parts educational and frustrating. I know, that sounds weird, but I’m not quite sure how else to describe a book that goes over water privatization and commercialization, and how people are fighting back to access clean, fresh water.

This tiny book (it’s only about 125 pages), covers a lot of history: from the rise of corporate water control, to the fight to make access to clean water a basic human right, the formation of Blue Communities, and the rising popularity of water warriors. It’s short and to the point, and wastes no time when explaining how companies took control of water, and how people are starting to fight back.

I’ll admit, the first section of this book is not easy to read. It’s equal parts depressing and infuriating learning about how governments took control of water, upped the price per liter, and essentially starved whole communities of a naturally occurring resource. Some governments in South America even tried to privatize rain water, which is just cruel to think about. By the time you make it through this first section, you’ll be eager to learn how people rally and fight back.

Wherever water privatization spread, so too did resistance to it.

The author quickly goes over how the right to access water was brought to the United Nations, and incorporated into the Sustainable Development Goals. From there, other organizations took up the fight to ensure access to clean, fresh water, which led to the development of the Blue Communities movement.

These groups began in Canada, which was pleasantly surprising. For fellow Canadian readers, you’ll get a look at what different cities, townships, and provinces are doing across the country, and how these activities helped inspire other countries around the world. From petitioning local governments to banning plastic bottles on university campuses and public spaces, there is no lack of creativity when it comes to fighting against water privatization and ensuring access for all.

Yes, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but in Whose Water Is It, Anyway? you see that it’s not an impossible fight. The author also included resources at the end on how to approach municipal and federal governments, as well as other information.

If you’re looking to educate yourself more on the topic of water—why it’s so expensive, why we should ban single-use plastic bottles, why certain communities have no access to water, and more—pick up this book.

Yes, it’s non-fiction, but it’s written in an accessible way that is easy to understand. I promise you won’t regret reading this title. The topic isn’t exactly fun, but it’s incredibly important.

Thank you to ECW Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Whose Water Is It, Anyway? came out on September 3, 2019, and can be purchased wherever books are sold.

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