MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the United States. It draws all of its water from sources that exist far beyond the horizon of the arid desert and craggy mountains that surround it.
Although some city officials claim Phoenix has excess water at the moment, other analysts claim that with the rise in global warming and the battle in the Southwest between municipalities and states over dwindling water supplies, Phoenix will face a water crisis in the not-so-distant future. A 2015 Slate article warns that "as Lake Mead hits record lows and water shortages loom, Arizona prepares for the worst."
This scenario is seen as an opportunity by Nestlé Waters -- the biggest bottled water company in the world -- not as a cause of concern for the survival of Phoenix residents. After all, if you can tip your privatization toe in a dwindling water supply, your product -- necessary to life -- becomes more valuable over time.
A May 13 article in The Arizona Republic states:
Nestlé Waters will spend $35 million to revamp a west Phoenix warehouse into a plant treating city water and selling it as Pure Life brand bottles, city and company officials said.
The plant is projected to fill 264 million half-liter bottles in its first year, or almost 35 million gallons.
That's more than enough water to supply 200 Phoenix households for a year. The plant is expected to create 40-50 jobs.
Water Online reports on Nestlé's odd defense of its water bottling plant in the middle of one of the United States' biggest cities stricken by drought:
Nestlé emphasizes the importance of water, in general, when defending its bottled water business.
"Water is essential and if people weren't drinking our bottled water, they'd be drinking tap water or soda or beer," one official previously said, per CNBC.
The company says it is dedicated to “responsible water management.”
Responsible water management facilitates people drinking from their taps, rather than forcing people to drink water that is wastefully bottled and sold for a profit in convenience stores and supermarkets. Furthermore, as we have reported before, the plastic bottles are an ecological disaster. If capitalism depends on coming up with innovative ways to foce consumers to buy what the don't need, single-use bottled water is a prime example: a model of an unnecessary and wasteful product.
As I noted in a commentary on June 21, Nestlé is making windfall profits off of publicly owned water at various locations around the nation -- and polluting the planet to boot. Although the bottling plant being built in Arizona is relatively small, it is an example of the privatization of the public commons, in this case involving a substance that is necessary for human survival. It can also be viewed as a likely first step in bottling water that is basically tap water and reselling it at a premium perhaps on a much larger scale in the future in the Phoenix metro area.
The Courage Campaign Institute, an arm of the California-based Courage Campaign, recently sent out an alarmed email about the Nestlé bottling plant opening in Phoenix:
I know, you can't make this up. Phoenix is one of the driest -- and fastest-growing -- cities in the world.
But Nestlé is so shameless -- and so obsessed with maximizing profits -- that they're willing to go anywhere and do anything, even if that means taking water from the heart of the Arizona desert....
Phoenix is in the middle of a 17-year drought. Facing a booming population and climate-change-driven water shortages, the entire state of Arizona is being asked to "share in the sacrifice."
But Phoenix also was devastated by the 2008 financial collapse, and the city is desperate for investment. That's exactly the kind of situation where Nestlé swoops in to take advantage.
The city government is touting the Nestlé plant as a sign of economic development, but it's really an example of persuading people to pay for water that they can get at home or from a water fountain.
Access to potable drinking water should be a human right, not a corporate moneymaker.
Not to be reposted without permission of Truthout.