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Canadian author warns of looming global water supply catastrophe

On Radio National's Breakfast Show of 16 June 2008, Canadian Maude Barlow author of "Blue Covenant - The Global Water Crisis And The Coming Battle For The Right To Water" (RRP AU$29.95), broke yet more alarming news of yet another aspect of humankind's combined problem of resources scarcity and overpopulation, that is, the rapid ongoing depletion of non-renewable underground water supplies on top of our large-scale interference with the earth's natural water cycles.

In the interview (the audio file not yet available, will be soon made available here for about 4 weeks) Barlow gave a sobering catalogue of unsustainable water practices across the globe. These included:

  • Much of the US is literally running out of water, and that the Colorado
    River/Hoover Dam system is failing;
  • Water tables underneath southern India are rapidly falling as bore water pumps are running literally 24x7 to supply water for agricultural, domestic and industrial use;
  • The ground beneath Mexico City is sinking as water beneath it is pumped out to supply the needs of its population;
  • China is diverting massive amounts of water at enormous ecological and social cost in order to supply the world with cheap plastic artifacts such as shower curtains;
  • The biggest killer of children in the world today is not AIDS, war or traffic accidents, but, rather, water-borne diseases.

She strongly opposed water privatisation as a solution to the problem. Whilst being in favour of placing an appropriate monetary value on water, she said that giving control of water assets to private corporations would only lead to those corporations being able to charge exorbitant rates to the rest of us and would most likely lead to the poor missing out.

As a general rule, Maude Barlow opposes measures to divert natural flows of water such as the Victorian Government's planned North South Pipeline to diver water from the Goulburn River valley to supply Melbourne's project population growth by 1 million (see

In regard to desalination which is being more widely adopted around Australia, Maude Barlow suggested that instead of relying on such energy-intensive and ecologically questionable technologies that Australia, instead urgently consider ceasing the growth of its population. Without sustainable water supplies it is folly for a country such as Australia to continue to erect ever more high-rise buildings without sustainable supplies of water to meet the needs of their occupants.

See also
Against the flow of 7 Jun 08 in the Melbourne Age;
Mother Jones interview about Maude Barlow's previous book, Blue Gold;
Maude Barlow on the Global Movement of 27 Feb 08;
About Maude Barlow in;
Reviews of Blue Covenant by Readings and The New Press

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