Sunday, June 11, 2006

Local Groups Oppose Corporate Water Mining

Articles about this event appeared in the Ithaca Times, the Corning Leader, the Elmira Star-Gazette, the Watkins Express and the Dundee Observer and on Laura Hand's show on WSTM in Syracuse. Participants decided to form a regional water protection network.

Community Water Rights Protection Workshop
Date: June 9-10, 2006
Location: Rural-Urban Center, 208 Broadway, Montour Falls

Alarmed that water resources in the Finger Lakes will be targeted by large corporate water companies for privatization of municipal water services and for mining bottled water, the Finger Lakes Progressive Coalition and the Finger Lakes Group of the Sierra Club sponsored a Water Rights Protection Workshop June 9 and 10, 2006, at the Rural-Urban Center in Montour Falls. The workshop was for members of the public to learn how to prevent corporate control of water resources and services in our Finger Lakes and Southern Tier communities.

"Here in the Finger Lakes we take for granted ample supplies of fresh water, but as fresh water becomes an increasingly valuable commodity, large corporations are setting their sights on the giant reservoirs of fresh water in our lakes and aquifers for distribution and profit," said Rachel Treichler of Hammondsport, a member of the Sierra Club, and one of the organizers of the program.

"Members of the Finger Lakes Progressives are watching water privatization efforts in surrounding states; including Pennsylvania and N. H., with alarm," Jack Ossont of Yates county, coordinator of the Progressive Coalition, remarked. "Folks in the Finger Lakes have always regarded water as a resource for the use of all and we organized this workshop to help us keep it that way."

The workshop was led by two nationally known experts on community water issues: Victoria Kaplan, national organizer of the Water for All Campaign with Food and Water Watch in Washington, DC, and Ruth Caplan, national coordinator of the Alliance for Democracy's Defending Water for Life campaign and chair of Sierra Club's national Water Privatization Task Force.

Their presentations showed what communities can do when municipal water and sewer services are targeted for corporate takeover and when local water resources are targeted by bottling companies. The workshop featured discussion of who has the rights to make decisions about water usage in a community.

"From Mt. Shasta, California to Bigelow Mountain in Maine, Nestle and other giant corporations are pursuing big profits pumping pristine water from America's gems of nature to put in little plastic bottles", warns Ruth Caplan. "Now is the time to act, if you don't want this to happen to the Finger Lakes."

"Communities around the country and around the world have experienced major problems when a corporation gets control of their water--from rate increases to declining customer service," said Victoria Kaplan. "Luckily, residents of the Finger Lakes region have a great opportunity right now to protect their water for future generations."

Friday evening's program featured a showing of the prize-winning 62-minute documentary Thirst and a discussion of the issues it raises: Is water part of a shared commons, a human right for all people? Or is it a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded in a global marketplace?

In Saturday's program, Victoria Kaplan addressed municipal privatization issues and Ruth Caplan talked about how water bottling companies are taking local water supplies and what communities are doing about it.

The workshop schedule is at:

Learn more about Food and Water Watch at
Learn more about the Alliance for Democracy Defending Water for Life Campaign at
Learn more about the Sierra Club Water Privatization Task Force at
Learn more about the Finger Lakes Group of the Sierra Club at
Learn more about New York Democracy Schools at

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