Los Angeles Joins a Global Movement to Protect Human Right to Water

Credit: Council of Canadians

By Vi Bui
OTTAWA, Canada, Nov 15 2019 (IPS)

On November 6, Los Angeles became the first major city in the
United States to earn the designation of “Blue Community” – a
bold move that will keep water protected from
privatization.

Situated in the heart of the most water stressed region in the
country, this is a historic move for LA, and signals the growing
movement globally of communities standing up to protect their
water.

The Blue Communities Project encourages municipalities and
Indigenous communities to support the idea of a water commons
framework, recognizing that water is a shared resource for all, by
passing resolutions that:

1. Recognize water and sanitation as
human rights.
2. Ban or phase out the sale of bottled water in municipal
facilities and at municipal events.
3. Promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and
wastewater services.

Around the world, our water is under threat from
over-extraction, pollution, industrial agriculture, and other
projects. The looming climate crisis further intensifies all these
risks. In fact,
the New York Times recently reported that a quarter of the
world’s population is facing a looming water crisis
.

Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
calls our situation “the myth of abundance.” We take water for
granted. Communities are going thirsty due to dried up rivers,
lakes are being turned into tailing ponds, oceans are filling up
with plastics, and yet governments are welcoming corporations to
privatize their water with open arms.

The Blue Communities Project has resonated with water activists
and communities across the world. Working to safeguard the human
right to water from the ground up, the project promotes the water
commons framework, shifting the view of water from a resource to
extract and exploit, to a public trust and a commons to protect and
promote.

Credit: Council of Canadians

We are fighting everyday against corporate water takings, new
pipeline projects, and government austerity. Turning our
communities “blue” presents an opportunity to reimagine a
different kind of relationship to the resource that nourishes
us.

Blue Communities around the world are also inoculating
themselves against any risks threatening our water, like
privatization, by building community resilience and grassroots
power.

That is exactly why Los Angeles becoming a Blue Community was
such a historic moment for the global water justice movement.
Angelenos, as well as residents of surrounding regions, are no
strangers to the water shortage and other threats facing their
water.

A hot and dry climate and growing population quickly forced LA
to look for other sources of water. Today, its residents get their
water from a mix of groundwater, the nearby lakes and rivers,
snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, and imported water from the
Colorado River through the Colorado River Aqueduct
.

The region regularly experiences severe droughts, and access to
water source has been a main source of conflict.
Climate change has exacerbated the dry conditions
through
prolonged droughts, reduced rainfalls, and limits to the amount of
snowpack available that feeds the many lakes and rivers in the
region.

These threats put tremendous pressure on LA’s water and
wastewater infrastructure, and putting many residents’ access to
safe drinking water and sewer system at risk. Black and Hispanic
communities in the Los Angeles – Long Beach area, are more likely
to distrust the quality of their drinking water, according to the
American Housing Survey in 2015.

Lower
income communities are also more likely to experience negative
health outcomes due to exposure to poorly treated coastal
waters
. To receive the Blue Communities designation, the LA
Department of Power and Water has committed to assisting residents
who need help paying their bill and avoiding shutting off
water.

More than that, the city has guaranteed access to safe, clean
drinking water and sanitation to its most vulnerable
communities.

The City of Los Angeles has embraced an integrated water
management system, and a mix of public education, innovative water
recycling, and new technologies to deliver drinking water to its
residents. This complex and vulnerable system requires a publicly
owned and operated water and wastewater systems and services to
survive crises and make sure it serves the communities first.

Recently, Californians recently got a taste of what its private
utility does under a time of crisis during wildfires. The state
private utility, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), was found to
have caused
past fires and cut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of
homes to avoid liability from its equipment as the blazes
spread
.

PG&E’s many cost-cutting practices have put millions at
risk, and reveals the danger of having essential services owned and
operated by private companies, which put their shareholders’
interests above the public’s.

When the climate crisis is unravelling, letting corporate
control run free could put vulnerable communities at risk.
As the call to nationalize PG&E grows
, we must work to keep
our water and wastewater services public, and in the case of a
vulnerable water sphere in Los Angeles, it is critical. Becoming a
Blue Community s commits to just that.

Since the Blue Communities Project started in 2009, communities
and water justice activists have brought the made-in-Canada vision
around the world. Faith-based communities, universities and school
boards joined the fight, and the movement has resonated in Europe,
a hotbed of privatization and home to many multinational private
water companies.

Paris, Berlin, Bern, and Munich have become Blue Communities
after decades fighting privatization to solidify their commitment
to protect their water in public hands. With Los Angeles on board,
23 million people around the world have embraced the water commons
ethics.

As the first major U.S city to turn “blue”, LA is leading by
example that protecting our water is a fight anyone can take up. We
look forward to many other American communities joining this
growing movement.

If you are looking for a handbook of where to start, read Maude
Barlow’s latest book, Whose Water Is It Anyway: Keeping Water
Protection in Public Hands (ECW Press). You can find out more about
our project at www.canadians.org/bluecommunities.

The post
Los Angeles Joins a Global Movement to Protect Human Right to
Water
appeared first on Inter
Press Service
.

Excerpt:

Vi Bui is Water Campaigner with the Council of
Canadians

The post
Los Angeles Joins a Global Movement to Protect Human Right to
Water
appeared first on Inter
Press Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Los Angeles Joins a Global Movement to Protect Human Right to Water