Flow was an interesting documentary about the problems with water, but unlike my previous post reviewing Water Wars, it was not solely concentrating on the water supplies of a few areas, but looked at water issues from a variety of global locales. It also doesn’t simply talk about one aspect of the water problem, but encompasses many, making some extremely valid and important points about how this is a global issue.
Watching this film gives one a bit of a sense of foreboding and outrage. Why? Well, it talks a bit about contaminants, bringing into question if the chemicals, cosmetics, and medicines we consume are really being properly filtered out of the waste water before they re-enter our lakes and streams, and then go back into our home water supplies and out our faucets. Tap water is supposed to be filtered right? What about bottled water? How safe would you feel drinking it if you were to find out that there are less regulations in place over what’s actually in those bottles then in our tap water? Ok. Now I’m uncomfortable again. Foreboding has occurred.
As for outrage, it talks about how big business are privatizing water sources for financial gain when they don’t own the water in the first place. They showed places where poor people in Africa have to pay to use the clean water provided for at their pumps, or else they have to use the river water that people bathe and wash their clothes and track their farm stock through. Then there is Nestle (who sells Perrier and San Pellegrino among others) who put a bottled water plant in Michigan and began selling it worldwide, causing lower water levels in Michigan for the people who lived there. When the people tried to sue them they originally won, but then lost the appeal whilst Nestle managed to get the courts to allow them to keep pumping throughout the lawsuits. I’m getting a bit of a bad vibe from this company, since they also involved in my other post which talks about the cocoa industry and child trafficking and slave labour. For their official statements about their representation in Flow see the link below or just click here. Even Coke seemed to get in on the bad company action in the town of Plachimada, India, where people protested that Coke was poisoning the water and eventually was thrown out. (Coke also had given the people fertilizer which ended up being toxic, not the best way to win over the locals, and kinda mob bossy.)
It also talks about how after Oil (#1) and Electricity (#2), water is the third largest global industry. Since privatization is encroaching on this resource, forcing out individuals and communities in favour of the almighty dollar, this is a huge concern. We can live without oil and electricity (surprisingly enough, it’s true) but you just can’t live without water. At one point a protester talks about being given the choices to fight or die. If this was presented to you as your only options concerning access to clean drinking water, I think that you would agree, this isn’t a choice.
Want to get a better idea of some of the issues (and innovations! There is good stuff too!) surrounding water? Give Flow a spin. Here’s the trailer below:
Need more resources? See below for more books and articles:
Nestle Wiki entry – See “Controversy and criticism” section
Nestle’s official response to the criticisms they get in FLOW
Criticism of Coca-Cola Wiki entry – See “Water” and “India” Headings
National Geographic freshwater website