One can readily find information concerning the science, the economics, and the legalities of water extraction. Within each of these disciplines one can extract data supportive of one’s agenda, irrespective of which side of the argument he or she stands. It is also quite easy to locate historical information about the companies which extract water and how each has interacted with the local populations where the water is extracted. Again, the information comes in both positive and negative varieties. Maybe the final decision for some will not be the hard evidence, but perhaps the ‘ethics’ of water extraction.
First, everybody should understand that on a global scale, there is a water crises. Not only in the ‘third world’ countries, but right here in the United States, people are finding it difficult to find enough ‘usable’ water for day to day life. Here in Maine, we are blessed with an abundance of clean, palatable fresh water; water which others wish to control.
If the companies lining up to stake claims to water rights were doing so with the benevolence of sharing with the poor and water starved people of the world, perhaps one could understand and agree with tapping into our reserves. But, as everybody knows, the reason these companies want Maine’s waters, is not altruism, but rather it is greed. Corporations have but one mandate, dictated by their charters, and that is to supply profit to the owners. If one could ‘personify’ water corporations, I would probably characterize Nestle as the ‘pedophile’ of the water industry. They seem to have a history of praying on small, rural communities, those naïve about multi-national corporate powers, and unaware of the amount of monies involved. Nestles’ ‘water hunters’ seem to be well-educated, articulate and congenial. Like offering candy to a child, these salesmen slip into communities and quietly try to make deals with local authorities, offering what seems to be sweet deals in order to extract one sided contracts, knowing full well that these contracts can be usurped by international law giving the corporation unprecedented powers to make a profit. There are more mercenary and aggressive water companies in the world, but Nestle just seems ‘attracted’ to the innocent and naïve.
A Native American adage says that we do not really own the land, but that we are here to protect the land for our grandchildren. The money being offered by companies like Nestle, to small communities in order to gain access to our grandchildren’s birthright is but pocket change to them. Yes, these companies employ a few dozen people and pay wages (a business expense deducted from taxes), and occasionally they “donate” water to disaster relief (ooops, another tax deduction coming as well as a round of self-glorifying PR). The actions of these corporations can always be boiled down to some self-serving purpose, at least in my evaluation. In March we will be asked to ‘sell our well’ for a hand full of silver. Our grandchildren will be watching.