World water wars

Imagine a world where water is in such short supply, people go to war over it. In fact, that’s already happened in places such as Darfur in Africa.

As tragic as the Darfur situation is, the scenario may be repeated on a much larger scale in the not-too-distant future and closer to home. If we’re prepared to invade countries over oil, how much more would we (or our neighbors) be prepared to do over the elixir of life?

Even the bickering between states and provinces within countries is rapidly on the increase. In Australia, inflows into the Murray over the past three months were the lowest on record and a major algae outbreak threatens an 800km stretch of the iconic waterway.

At the tail end of this critical river system that runs through multiple states is South Australia, where not only wetlands and lakes are under threat, but also drinking water supplies. As you can imagine, the SA government is not happy with the state basically getting the dregs and is preparing a High Court legal challenge over the River Murray.

While all out water wars may sound a little far fetched, not all battles are fought with guns and bombs. Increased corporate control over water is also a frightening concept.

How about laws that prevent you from capturing rainfall from your own roof as that water is already “owned”? That’s not a possibility, it’s already a reality in some US states.

We are polluting, diverting, pumping, and wasting our limited supply of fresh water at incredible rates. Corporate giants force developing countries to privatize their water supply for profit. Places like Africa are being encouraged to export their water (embodied in goods) in order to get out of debt. Australia, the driest inhabited continent on Earth, also exports an incredible amount of virtual water each year.

It’s a big mess and one that will only get worse unless we citizens wisen up to what’s happening behind the scenes and start making some noise. It’s more than just about installing rainwater tanks and rain barrels or saving water in our homes and in our gardens.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars is a documentary that follows a number of examples around the world of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions. The film asks the question as a line is crossed when water becomes a commodity. “Will we survive”?