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   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county


Water is a human right, not a commodity

Vote YES on Measure W


Water resources must be protected as a public trust so that commerial use of water does not diminish public or ecological benefits. Photo: Tom Jacobs -


Ballots will be mailed soon to residents of Felton regarding whether residents currently served by the privately-owned RWE/Cal Am water system should tax themselves and issue $11 million in bonds to acquire Felton's water system for the public. Cal Am is a huge European multinational company. Voted ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m. on July 26. Approval of Measure W would mean that the Felton Water System would be purchased by eminent domain and merged with the publically-owned San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

Sierra Club urges a YES vote based on our water policy. Principles on which our policy is based are reproduced in this article in bold type.

Sierra Club believes that water is a public resource, not a commodity. We believe that municipal water systems are essential public services and should not be privatized.

The election in Felton is a microcosm of the huge struggle for water rights and corporate profits being played on the world stage. Multinational corporations are buying up water rights worldwide. Their goal is to make money for stockholders. The video documentary, Thirst, chronicles this process. The Sierra Club has published a study guide to the video which references the increase in water rates and exploitation of the poor which has occurred with the privatization of water in developing countries and elsewhere.

All water resources, including the oceans, must be protected as a public trust so that commercial use of water does not diminish public or ecological benefits.

Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW), a grassroots group, has been working for public ownership of Felton water. One of FLOW's primary concerns is the poor environmental record by RWE around the globe and by Cal-Am closer to home. RWE's British subsidiary, Thames Water, topped lists of the worst polluters in the UK in 1999 and 2000, according to the watchdog group Public Citizen.

Sierra Club was one of 225 public interest organizations from around the world that released the following declaration in Kyoto at the 3rd World Water Forum setting forth principles for global water policy:

"Water, as a public trust and an inalienable human right, must be controlled by the peoples and communities that rely on it for their lives and livelihoods. The management of water services must not only remain in public hands, but must be revitalized and strengthened to make community and worker participation central in order to democratize decision-making processes and ensure transparency and accountability."

Vote YES on Measure W

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