For Love of Water documentary opens tonight in DC, California

For Love of Water, the amazing documentary about water-rights and bottled water companies, is opening tonight in DC and up and down California. Here's some of my review from last April:
Global water profiteering is at the center of a global healthcare crisis that kills more people than AIDS or malaria. The film shows the grim reality of water in Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the USA. The mortality is awful, and not just from bad water or no water -- also from police forces in states like Bolivia who go to war against people whose water supply has been sold to foreign multinationals who are reaping windfall profits while they die.

In the US and Europe, the bottled water industry pulls in billions to sell products that are more contaminated and toxic than what comes out of the tap. The result is a gigantic mountain of empty plastic bottles that toxify the environment -- and three times more money spent on bottled water than it would take to solve the world's real water crisis. The companies like Nestle that pump out our aquifers use private investigators to harass people who sign petitions to stop them from pumping.

But it's not all doom and gloom -- low-cost, sustainable purification technologies like ultraviolet water-health run by village cooperatives can make dramatic development differences for the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, who are able to maintain their own systems without foreign involvement. Local activists all over the world and fighting back and winning public, non-profit ownership of their waterworks.

Flow See also: For Love of Water: infuriating and incredible documentary about world's water-crisis


  1. I saw this documentary a few days ago, and although there were some interesting facts, there was also quite a bit that was unsubstantiated and self-contradictory. The film also complains about private water companies around the world without discussing government-regulated water companies, like those in California (whose profits are limited by law). And it allows the viewer to believe that in years gone by uncontaminated water was available everywhere, and this just isn’t true (many harmful elements and diseases are perfectly natural).

    As an example of the “half truths” used in the film is the use of UV light to purify water. It is implied that water companies don’t use UV light, but they do (not everywhere, but it’s not useful everywhere). It is also implied that UV is an inexpensive way to make water drinkable, and although this is true in some places, if you have water that is naturally full of arsenic and lead, UV isn’t going to do anything for you.

    On the whole, I found the film disappointing. I was really hoping for better arguments and less paranoia.

  2. Please see the website included in this post. It is very important. John Hays is doing a tremendous amount of work around the world helping people with clean water. I worked with John on a project in Tanzania about a year and a half ago. Please look at his website. I don’t want to take anything away from other folks who are also working very hard with helping with clean water around the world. There are many, many people and organizations dedicating their lives to help folks who don’t have clean water.

  3. @Cancilla

    Check out the book ‘Blue Covenant’ by Maude Barlow. I heard about this movie through her somehow, and I found it to be a good, but very brief, summary of all the info in her book.

    And I also think a bit of paranoia, in regards to something so vital, is not always a bad thing.

  4. @ Cancilla,

    Regarding your comment: “The film also complains about private water companies around the world without discussing government-regulated water companies, like those in California (whose profits are limited by law)”, I like to say this:

    I think there’s a difference between “limited by law” and “approved by a regulatory agency that’s in the back pocket of the private water industry.”

    My little town of Felton, California fought for more than six years to acquire its water system from California-American Water, a subsidiary of American Water, which itself is owned by the German multinational RWE.

    Citizens attempting to challenge rate hikes (in our case Cal-Am would typically go for 78% or more) are at a distinct disadvantage. Mounting an effective challenge at the California Public Utilities Commission costs anywhere from $80,000 to $125,000 and the Commissioners are decided pro-privatization.

    We had to resort to an eminent domain action and 75% of voters approved a $600 annual increase in property taxes for 30 years, just to get rid of Cal-Am. The company was not above resorting to dirty politicking, as it does when it fights any citizen effort, and they agreed to a negotiated deal three days before a public jury trial which would brought a lot of this out in the open.

    When we took control of our water system, our rate was immediately cut in half. If I have a concern I call a local phone number and talk to someone who lives in the area, and if I don’t like decisions that the publicly elected water board makes, I can vote them out of office.

    You get none of that with a private water utility.

    Here’s our website: and here’s a great article (Page 1 of the Wall Street Journal) on our fight against RWE: .

    Jim Graham

  5. I’d agree the film is alarmist but the problem of water borne diseases and who should pay the costs of delivering are very real. Salina addresses some of those issues in her Q&A with Inter Press news wire.

    Bottlmemania takes a close look at water privatization through the eyes of one town in Maine
    and arrives at similar conclusions. Privatization is bad for taxpayers and perhaps even the environment.

  6. Almost all water (unless it’s chemically broken down by electrolysis, or ejected into outer space) is recycled, so we can’t run out of it.

    Furthermore, potable water is a commodity. It’s substitutable, and unlike “intellectual property” is actually rival and excludable. We can’t both drink the same glass of water.

    But, as they say about beer, you never really buy it, you just “rent” it.

    So where’s the crisis? How exactly are Poland Spring et. al. responsible?

    Seems like a better documentary would cover the misallocation of water in southern California because of artificially low prices by the state-run water works. Furthermore, that irrigating a desert is the primary cause of the recurrent wild fires there by providing the dried plant matter where otherwise it would not exist.

  7. Bah, zuzu. I can drink my glass of water, urinate, have it go to the wastewater treatment plant, and 100 miles from here, it will likely be potable water again, either from rainfall or from just trickling downstream and being purified again.

    Think about that if you’re ever in one of the Southern U.S. cities along the Mississippi River, who all get their water–and dump their sewage–in the river. (Eww.)

    Don’t let people like T. Boone Pickens convince you it’s a commodity–it’s not. However, all around the world, including the United States, laws are passed, usually in the name of conservation, or in the name of health and safety, which ultimately ends up granting someone the exclusive rights to transport potable water.

    It’s almost as if many affluent people read Frank Herbert’s Dune ant took the completely wrong message from it.

  8. The website fails to mention it, but FLOW is also playing in Birmingham, AL as part of the Sidewalk Film Fest on Sept 27/28.

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