Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saving Water for the Future

I read an article about Nestlé's plans/attempts to siphon water from the Arkansas River. I guess I'm a little hypersensitive, because I can still remember when Poland Spring was a Maine-owned and operated company, and I remember when Nestlé started flirting with Poland Spring, who turned over on its back like an attention-starved high-schooler being wooed by the super jock (please excuse the imagery). At the time, I said - out loud - that it was a bad idea to sell out to Nestlé (I thought it was a mistake for Tom's of Maine to sell-out to Colgate, too, but since I don't own any of those companies, I don't have say-so). Those big corporations don't really care about the communities they buy into, and invariably, what's good for their business is bad for the community.

Not too long ago, I saw a video in which the CEO of Nestlé stated, in not so many words, that access to clean water is not a right, but rather a commodity. He sat behind his big desk and said that corporations (like Nestlé's presumably) need to be in control of these resources, like water, so that they can ensure it goes where it needs to go. Hmmm .... I wonder who is the most deserving of this essential-to-life resource. If you believe Nestlé's CEO, it's the person who can afford it ... oh, and those poor starving souls who tug at the heart-strings of the rich and are therefore tossed a few bottles, maybe enough to keep themselves (but probably not their children) from dying of dehydration-related illnesses.

Lest you think I'm talking about some typical third world country, think again. How about this Canadian town where Nestlé has won the "right" to drain the aquifers of as much water as they wish ... even in the midst of a drought when the citizens of that town do not have unlimited access? Really? So, basically, the folks who live there have to pay Nestlé for the bottled water that was taken from the town's own aquifers. Nice. Certainly, it's not as dire as a place where there is no access to clean water at all, but it could escalate to a scenario in which the locals don't have any right to the water that runs right under their homes.

Did anyone see that cartoon movie, Rango? It probably wasn't as fictional as we might want to believe. Pump all of the water into bottles, and then charge for the water. Sounds like a solid business plan.

Reminds me of southeastern Kentucky, where my paternal relatives settled. People could buy land, but the coal companies owned the mineral rights, and if they found a coal seam running under a person's land, they had the right to come in and mine it. I saw it happen. Broke my heart, because coal mining is a dirty and destructive business, and it creates an incredible amount of pollution, and often, when the coal companies get done with their digging, the land is so toxic it's barely even fit to live on.

Thanks to attitudes like that, legislation that gives preference to corporations over individuals, those of us who are concerned about the state-of-the-world and wish to start becoming more self-sufficient, often run up against all sorts of brick walls from restrictions on the height of the plants in our front yards to the inability to set-up a water catchment system. In some states (like Colorado), rain water is not a free resource and collecting it in rain barrels (and preventing it from flowing into the Colorado River where it can be accessed by every one) is illegal.

I wonder, though, if there are legal options that serve the same/similar purpose. Like, are swimming pools illegal in Colorado? Could one use rain gutters on the house (which are commonly used to protect a home's foundation by diverting the rain water and keeping it from eroding away the support structure) and just point them toward the pool? Are swales illegal? They are, after all, a water catchment system, of sorts.

I'm not suggesting that anyone flout the law or blatantly ignore or violate local building/land use codes, but I am suggesting that, perhaps, there are alternatives to doing nothing, and it would serve all of us, living in this country where the government, invariably, passes laws that benefit corporate interests (and, often, those laws are passed under the pretense of making life better for us, or protecting us, or some other BS), to start thinking around the issues.

Rain barrels are illegal? Build a pond or a pool and collect/store/save water that way.

There's always an alternative.

Today's harvest:

56 lbs chicken (in the freezer)
spinach, kale, chives, and fennel to add to the lamb stir-fry.


  1. Yes, it's pretty scary. There are only about 6 or 7 companies in the entire world that own all the public water companies. Scary.

  2. Scary stuff - but I like your thoughts on pools, etc. Thank you for turning this around so there are *ideas* and options! We've been concerned about being sent to CO because of their rain catchment law.

    For right now, it's legal - and encouraged - in Texas. Good thing too, because with the oil companies moving heavily into the area we live in, and water already in short supply - well, it'll be interesting (the PC version lol) to see what happens in the next couple of years in this community. Between the water they need for the processes and the water needed for the larger population.......

    A town about 35 miles from us ran out of water last week. Their well was down to air and mud and they had to stop pumping - including to the fire house, which thankfully had a full tanker. But just that one. Scary, scary stuff.

  3. Wendy, there is a time coming, and not too far off,(I'd argue it's here already), when good people will have to flout, ignore or defy laws that restrict common sense or are even evil in intent.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
    ---attributed to Edmund Burke

  4. Yeaaah.... when we get enough cash saved up to buy a piece of land, it's going to be one that includes all mineral rights and that has a natural spring on the property. It's the only way to be safe.

    Unless, of course, your natural spring is fed by an aquifer being drained by a mega corporation. But then, no one can individually ward against that.