The Effect Water Mining Has on the World

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Did you know there will be no more water to drink in three years and we will all die? Okay, maybe not all of us, but the truth is we have a much bigger water problem than we realize or want to admit.  There are many water crises around the world due to big companies privatising water and taking it away and selling it as a commodity. The effects of them doing this on the nearby land and its people is becoming increasingly devastating.

The companies getting rich off of water are water mining.  Water mining is when someone drills a hole in the ground and starts pumping the water up out of the ground. However, this would not cause water problems in these places if it was used for things like agriculture or anything else where the water goes back into the ground; returning to an underground water source. The problem occurs when big companies bottle the water pumped from the ground and ship it somewhere else, which means the water cannot return to the ground and be reused; instead it is used to make something like soft drinks.

When the water is not returned, desertification happens.  Desertification is when someone takes water from underground and good, usable, land dries up and turns into a desert.   One of the biggest upcoming problem for the world, within the next three years, will be desertification, which will make the planet run low on fresh, drinkable, water. This will make the price of drinkable water cost more than oil, and earn water the nickname of “blue gold,” like oil is called “black gold.” Desertification is already causing this problem to occur in poverty stricken areas. Water mining areas with lack of water can cause desertification, which can affect the nearby people.

One country in the world suffering from water mining is Bolivia. There is a French company in Bolivia with a large water mining operation.  It pumps water from the ground, bottles it, and exports it from the country. The village right next to French company’s water bottling plant, right next to where there is tons of drinkable water splashing about for them to see, has no access to drinkable water.  This forces the villagers to walk miles from their home to get water from an unreliable, sometimes dry, well and carry it back. The French company offers water hook ups, but it costs the same amount one of these villagers earns in a year. This has led to the people that can afford it to have it, and those who can’t being shunned by the rest of the village.  Those who are too poor to buy water end up getting called things like “filthy pig” because sometimes they have to go without washing their clothes or themselves since they can’t afford the water. However, water mining affects people on larger scales than just a personal level.

In other places, such as Tanzania, water mining is destroying the local farming. In the case of one of Tanzania’s towns, there is a nearby Coca Cola factory pumping the water out from the ground. This is affecting the farmers as they have to dig their wells deeper to reach the water. This is not simply a case of getting a machine to dig a little further, they have to dig by hand. The wells used to be 20 feet deep and provide the farmers with plenty of water.  Now some of the wells are over 100 feet and some still do not reach water. The farmers are running out of water and they cannot afford to buy water. If they can’t successfully farm, then the people who depend upon them won’t have food to buy and so they go hungry. Yet, instead of protecting its people, the Tanzania government is supporting Coca Cola because Coke is paying them lots of money to have access to the water. This would be fine if the money went to the people being affected and used to somehow keep their lives intact, but that is not the case; the people are simply marginalized.  A big company should not be able to come in, take the water, and destroy the locals’ lives.

These are only two of the thousands of places in the world that have a water crisis due to water mining.  It is said in the future water will cost more than gas. If we keep treating water as a commodity only the rich will be able to afford water.

The big companies and the world bank want to privatize water. They say that privatizing water will lead to water conservation. Water privatization is when people sell water as a commodity to a company, or the company simply takes water from the ground (water mining) either legally or illegally, and said company, which now owns the water, sells it back to us for its own profit. The problem with this is the poor cannot afford the water and, as the demand for water increases, the price of water will go up. This is a problem as water is an essential need for human survival. It is said there will be wars over water.  In some places like the Middle East, where water is scarce in many places, there have long been wars over water. Water privatization and the continuously increasing practice of water mining will only increase the territories that will end up fighting over water.

Privatizing water and allowing water mining is like a teenager stealing his parents bank card and emptying the account; when the parents go broke, the teenager’s life is going to be screwed — homeless at the least. The effect water mining has had on the world is desertification. By taking the freshwater from an area and shipping to a different area, often a desert, it can’t return to the groundwater source and instead ends up in sewers and eventually in the ocean, leaving you with two areas of desert. By turning good living environments into deserts, the people living there no longer have access to the water they depended upon and can’t afford to buy it.  So why is anyone pushing water privatization when it has already been proven to destroy the culture of many places? The reason is simple. Money; companies make a profit. Something needs to be done, water mining needs to be stopped before something essential to life, indeed needed for human survival, stops being a human right and becomes the world’s most expensive commodity.


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