Friday, February 20, 2009

"For Love of Water"

By Jennifer Wemhoff, The Groundwater Foundation

I recently saw the documentary “FLOW” (For Love of Water). The film is an “award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century - The World Water Crisis. Director Irena Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question "CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?" (taken from

While the film does help viewers understand the fragility and finite nature of our world’s water resources, I would have liked more of a focus on the importance of protecting that resource, rather than pointing fingers at the “governmental and corporate culprits.” I imagine this is because The Groundwater Foundation advocates protection of water resources as paramount to ensure a safe supply for generations to come.

Parts of FLOW left me feeling downhearted and pessimistic about the future of water, while other parts made me grateful for the infrastructure that grants me access to clean water in my home. The film quotes Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I think this message of individual and collective impact is empowering, and the part of the film that touched me the most were the stories of individuals and groups who have taken action and helped make access to drinking water a reality in many poor parts of the world.

The film concludes by discussing establishing access to clean water a fundamental human right with the United Nations (see for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). A petition is being circulated to add this as Article 31 to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.” (

What do you think – Is access to water a fundamental human right? Can anyone really own the water? If you’ve seen FLOW, what were your reactions?

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