– Should We Support Privatization of Water Supply Systems?
13 points, Due 5/15
In any place where there is not enough water to meet all needs, there are many people working to improve the situation. Although there is often consensus over the
ultimate goals (like improve access to clean water for more people) there is typically a great deal of disagreement about the best methods to address the scarcity. As
with most arguments over decisions that impact the sustainability of a population or resource, the disagreements fall along ideological divides. Nowhere is the
disagreement over the approach to water access and allocation more ideologically charged and contentious than in the trend for privatization of water supply systems.
On 5/15 we will confront the issue of water privatization head on. Is it something we should support? Why are people literally up in arms about it? How do the
efforts of corporations to provide water services (as they do with food), and the push back against this trend, reflect an ideological conflict?
The way we will initially tackle this issue is to have another in-class debate. To prepare yourself for this, you need to come to class armed with a series of
arguments for the positive and the negative positions for the following question: Should We Support Privatization of Water Supply Systems? Have at least 4 distinct
and strong arguments for both positions. Each argument only needs to be pared down to 1-3 complete sentences, with appropriate source citations.
All the sources you need to prepare for the debate and this assignment are listed on the next page and in the 5/15 readings folder on the course Canvas site, though
you are certainly welcome to dig up additional references.*
* An especially interesting resource is the feature film – Even the Rain (aka Tambien La Lluvia). This is a Spanish movie that delves into the ethics of water
privatization in Bolivia as well as the ethics of film making, imperialism, protest, and cultural stereotyping and appropriation. It is available via streaming on
References for the Debate
Bakker, K (2013). Neoliberal versus Postneoliberal Water: Geographies of Privatization and Resistance. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103(2):
253-260. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00045608.2013.756246#.VBC9Xk10y9I [attempts to be objective about this issue]
Balen, M (2006). Water for Life – The Case for Private Investment and Management in Developing Country Water Systems. London, UK: Globalisation Institute. 26p. [pro-
Barlow, M (2010). The World’s Water: A Human Right or a Corporate Good?, in McDonald, B and Jehl, D, eds., Whose Water Is It? National Geographic Society. Pp. 25-
Dellapenna, JW (2005). Markets for Water: Time to Put the Myth to Rest?Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education, 131: 33-41.
Glennon, R (2010a). Bottling a Birthright?, in McDonald, B and Jehl, D, eds., Whose Water Is It? National Geographic Society. Pp. 9-24 [anti-commodification]
Lappe, A (2014). World Bank Wants Water Privatized, Despite Risks. Aljazeera America. http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/water-
Leonard, A (2010). The Story of Bottled Water. Tides Foundation & Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption. http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-
Segerfeldt, F (2010). Water Privatization is a Good Idea, in Langwith, J, ed., Opposing Viewpoints Series: Water. Greenhaven Press. Pp: 159-163. [pro-privatization]
Wikipedia (2013). 2000 Cochabamba Protests. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochabamba_Riots_of_2000 [privatization failure]
Quigley, D (2015). Water Resistance Trial Underway in Detroit. Counterpunch. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/20/water-resistance-trial-underway-in-detroit/
Should We Support Privatization of Water Supply Systems?
(Type your arguments into the cells below. Shoot for 4 good points for both sides.)
Yes because… No because….