Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Water Rights: Commons vs. Commodity

This document summarizes the crisis in the global south about water control issues. The main argument is the ownership of water rights; should it be a common or a commodity? For water to be a common means the ownership lays upon the people of the community. In contrast for water to be a commodity means it would be under private ownership and there are two distinct areas, the governmental side and the economic side. Each side, wether for or against the privatization of water, have their supporting arguments to their claims. The best management practice for water would be to place it under private control, but not at the expense of the community.More...

The main supporting argument for the anti-privatization of water remains on the issue of water being a human right, like food and shelter, essential for life. This side has a lot of support from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Is seems like such a simple principle that everyone should have access to clean water but the water just doesn’t clean itself. If the water was under management of the people it would go to hell just like anything else; there are just some people who do not care about others and ruin it for everyone. Everyone has their own water priority uses and it would not be fair for somebody taking just enough water to cook and drink for the day and somebody taking surplus for watering their plants. There would be some type of regulation but it would be very weak because not everyone would agree with the laws. The anti-privatization argument for water rights just doesn’t seem to be the best idea for the interest of the people.
The best management practice for water would be to put it under private control. There are many groups of people that believe water should be a source of income. This type of privatization would put a market on water with a fluctuating price. Many people would suffer from this because the prices would simply be too high while other would be in the riches. The pros of this solution would be the water quality standards; competition for the ‘cleanest water’ would arise which could bring economic boost to local areas. The best solution is obvious after reviewing the first two; water should be under private ‘governmental’ control. This is the best solution because it serves the best interest for all the people, remembering that there are some people who do just not care and would ruin it for the others. The water quality standards would be the best with this type of management and would be paid for by everyone in the community.
The issue of water rights is very serious, especially in developing countries. People see it as a necessity for life as others see it for a necessity of income. There are many supporting arguments for the anti-privatization of water but they just do not stand a chance with the arguments of the privatization sector. It would be in the best interest of all the people if the water was managed by some sort of agency which would set livable standards and make it available to all. It would be nice to think people wouldn’t have boil their water every time they need to use it.


  1. I agree with J. Wilcox, the best way to manage water is to privatize it. Even though that would make water more expensive it is important to make sure the water is properly cleaned and safe. the anti-privatization side is correct about the human right to water but I don't think their argument could stand up to the alter-globalization one. I think humans should have the right to clean water, instead of just water.

  2. I'm not totally convinced that any of the options presented are THE BEST for the people. Trying to determine the best possible way to go about the situation, is not really what the article was intended for. Of course, everyone deserves access to clean water. This is ideal. Though the article goes into detail about differentiating between the privatization of water and the marketization, I feel that some of the fears expressed by those not in favor of privatization are legitimate. There is that fear that though privatization would be aimed at distributing water to everyone, it could turn into the hardcore marketization, whoever has the money has the power, which would alienate the poor, making water too expensive to buy. There are a lot of problems here that need to be considered from all angles.

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  4. I can't exactly say that I agree with the privatization of water because of it's limitations to the nature resource. Water, being something that is a necessary to sustain life, is best suited (in my opinion) as a common and not a commodity. If one is to look at where privatization has already gotten us, it is clear to see that it is an ecological disaster waiting to happen. The draining of underground aquifers (as an example) is a serious problem that many people do not understand. If privatization made water available and affordable to all, that would be something to consider, however in my estimation privatization would most likely result in the opposite: scarcity and limitations on affordability. I understand that in the Third World, the conditions of water are not to the global standard, however, there are alternative routes and measures that could be taken in order to sanitize the water sources of those areas. Privatization of water would make a basic human right into a capitalistic gain, more so than it has already become. Woohoo, capitalism!

  5. I removed the first post because I clearly have lost the ability to spell.