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March 27-29, 2000 GROW BIOINTENSIVE conference on the U.C. Davis campus
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Jaimie Dunn

Jaimie Dunn works with The Council of Canadians, a public interest watchdog group with 100,000 members.

Dunn talked about the worldwide crisis in water and stated that "corporations, with the help of governments, are lining up to cash in on the situation," which could speed up the course of a water-scarce future. He said the World Bank has called potential world water sales a $800 billion business. He added that water privatization always leads to huge layoffs and a lack of public information about water quality.

Dunn noted corporations are gearing up to transport massive amounts of Canadian water to the U.S., Asia and the Middle East by supertanker, pipeline and diversion of river systems. "Bladders" now being constructed to be filled fresh water and towed behind tankers are 7 football fields long and 4 football fields wide.

Dunn also talked about the bottled water industry, one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In many Canadian communities, bottled water companies have obtained the right to tap water out of underground aquifers, even when those communities are experiencing water shortages. The high cost of bottled water, particularly in the Far East where it sells for about $7 a quart, makes this a lucrative business, even with transportation costs taken into account.

Dunn mentioned the inefficiency of most water systems and said that if current technologies were taken advantage of, agriculture could save 50% of its water and industry could reduce its water consumption by 50% to 90%. What is missing "is the political will and vision." He said governments are not enacting legislation to protect their water systems and in fact are encouraging the commodification of water.

He described the challenges water faces under World Trade Organization policies, which will prevent communities from making decisions about their own water. Dunn ended by saying we need to adopt a new water ethic based on knowing that water is part of the earth's heritage and must be preserved not only for the future generations themselves, but also for the world ecosystems. He believes this can only occur through communities coming together to make it happen.


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