Water Rights

Written by Andy

‘Water rights’ is going to ‘do us over’ big time. The corporations learned from oil exploration. If the corporations can grab all rights to water, we are stuffed. We may think we own the land but we have limited ‘rights’. We need land to exist. But they will own the water and it will be in their domain to ration it. Sorry folks — but this is serious business.

‘Water Rights’ refers to the right of a person to use water from a water source. This might be a river, a stream, a lake or groundwater. Where there is plentiful water the situation is usually comparatively simple with little contention. In areas with limited water, conflict is common. It is part of the civilization process. Civilization organizes the way we allocate resources, including land and water. We also pay attention to air quality and noise. Land, for many years, has been controlled by ‘title’ issued by government which can then be bought and sold in a market where the highest bidder has prominence and the pauper is left landless on the street. Land is not apportioned according to need. Water has long been considered a human right and the local society ensures free supply of basic drinking water to all irrespective of paupership. Thus, paupers got clean drinking water, but no where to shower and shave, and they get no land. They also get no cover for sleep.

Water Rights in the Murray–Darling Basin can be bought and sold. No money — no water. This water is traded on markets. Without money, the farmer cannot irrigate his land and the ignorant city-folk don’t get to eat the farmer’s tomatoes. Farmers will plough crops into the ground unable to afford to buy water. Cattle and sheep farmers will de-stocking because money to corporate water rights holders will be the deciding factor on which farmer gets to feed cattle. I always thought it was crazy that a farmer should have to pay for land on which he was prepared to put labour to feed me, a city person. The land was free in the first place and water is a free gift from the heavens. This has changed. The right to water in Australia has become a property right. A person can “own” the water and use it in whatever way seen fit. A person can buy entitlements and then sell those entitlements. The water entitlements in the Murray Darling Basin are valued in billions. No one owns the clouds — yet! Our ability to grow crops and drink water is being challenged by corporations challenging our right access to a god-given resource — water.

Thee irrigators in Australia that were issued tradeable entitlements ’s became like lottery winners. The water in rivers is effectively part of public wealth protected by government. Previously, these water irrigation licenses could not be traded. Typical of government bungling, allocation licences for some rivers exceeded the volume of water flowing down the river. With a multi-billion budget of taxpayer’s money, the government bought back water-licences that they had previously given out for free! They bought back licenses for water that did not exist! Such is the power of private interests that ‘influence’ a fake democracy where corporations have vastly more influence than voters – voters that know not how the government is playing. And from one cotton farmer:

In some years, when water is scarce, we will not grow cotton, we will lease the water. We can make more from that lease than we can from the crop.

The belief is that water markets encourage a more efficient allocation of water. But here is the rub. If corporations encourage ‘rights to water’, these can then be monopolized as is done with oil and diamonds. If they only allow a trickle of water to the people, they can control the price and access to water. If you had told me when I was a young man that one day I might have to pay for water in a bottle, I would have considered that you were mad. Water was free. I can drink water from any tap. (But I have to be careful where I let it pass from my body!) The cafe gives me water for free with my meal. It was enshrined in the culture and customs of Christendom.

I assume that I can keep some of the water running from my roof. But I do not ‘own’ the water flowing in the river passing through my property. I can swim in it, but can I empty my sewerage into it? If I am rich, can I own all the land in the town and deprive the inhabitants of water? If I tried, they would all leave and there would be no one to polish my shoes, or for that matter, there would be no farmers to supply me with food.

I remember a twenty-four-year-old saying to me: “Andy. We despair at the thought that we may not be able to buy a house.” In reply, I said: “But that is ridiculous. God or nature created land for all living things to share. As young people born in of the nation, you should have access to a piece of land, even if you have to pay a little for it.” Land is now granted, not to those with the greatest need, but to those who have the greatest access to money. In almost all cases, this means those with the greatest borrowing power meaning those with adequate incomes. The bank create fictitious money in the form of registry entries and charges you to use it’s invisible money. It garnishes the wages of the young. ‘Ownership’ of land does not confer true ownership rights. You cannot paint the house pink. You cannot build a tall building. You have great lists of what you cannot do. You do not own the air above it. You cannot stop planes flying over. You cannot stop the neighbors sewerage flowing underneath. You cannot kill the birds that fly over it. You cannot cut down the trees. Do you own the fruit on the branch that hangs over the neighbors fence. You cannot make noise. You cannot walk naked. You cannot poison the soil. You simply have ‘usage’ rights. It remains ‘Australian’ land subject to the laws of the land. You may even call yourself the land owner, but it does not belong to you until you have paid the very last mortgage payment. You are but a borrower. In hard language: “the mortgage holder is the person with the legal right to enforce repayment under the notes or foreclosure under the security interest.” I call this the: “Usury of Land”. Land in Australia and USA was given a way free at one time. Land subsequently might be sold but only for the amount of money that a purchaser could muster. Then the banks arrived. The amount a purchaser could pay magnified from ‘what he could muster’, being what he had saved, to what a bank would lend. The loan amount depended on the persons income. Thus the bank would skim future income from the person for up to thirty years. So land was no longer worth what money was available in the piggy bank on the mantelpiece, but became worth half of all the future income of the purchaser.

So we are now going to see some ‘real estate’ value attached to water rights much like the rights to use land. ‘Water Rights’ are progressively being ‘unbundled’ from ‘Land Rights’. We are now seeing ‘property rights’ in water that are separate from rights to land. Already, water rights can be traded and mortgaged even where the water quantity varies during a ‘water season’. Water will be treated as a scarce resource just as land is a scarce resource. The ‘state’ will be the regulator and enforcer. Although some already talk of private enforcement mechanisms for water rights. This is your cue to bow to the corporations and mega corporations who wish to ‘protect the security and value of those water rights’. We shall soon have poverty and thirst.

Now that legal mechanisms are being put in place for water rights, a new ‘Water Grab’ has awoken. Powerful actors are taking control of strategic water resources for their own benefit and is in so doing are depriving local inhabitants whose livelihoods can depend on access to the water resource with its associated ecosystem. Powerful actors organize for a ‘water rights’ mechanism to be set up by the local decision-making power structure, then they monopolize the freshly set up ‘rights’ before the locals wake up to their loss. The procedure commonly causes local dispossession and and sometimes ecological destruction. The problem is magnified by the widespread poisoning of water systems by fracking.

Although water conflicts and water wars have occurred through much of human history, the corporatization of the process is comparatively new. The ‘enclosure of the commons’ was a similar event in history where common land was cleared of citizens and sold into the hands of the well off. So land became distributed on the basis of wealth rather than need with resultant dispossession. Land went from communal property to become private property where the masses could own pocket handkerchief snippets of land at a cost of half their lifetime’s income. Water is now going from communal property to become private property and you can expect a similar outcome where the masses will pay dearly for their water intake. Use of a pocket handkerchief piece of land takes half of a couple’s income for thirty years, yet water is as precious. It may no longer be a ‘public’ source at almost no cost but a mortgaged situation with significant money flowing to the corporations conveniently blamed on ‘climate change’, itself blamed on the citizens, not the corporations that encouraged the use of energy inefficient transport.

This conversion of water resources into private goods is becoming more and more sophisticated and increasingly globalized. Water has become a global resource grab characterized by privatization of public assets accompanied by the steady increase in large-scale capital accumulation (greed).

It is likely that water access will become an increasingly burden on the people as corporations create a water asset base and act as rentiers. This will likely produce regional instability accompanied by social unrest against what one might call a ‘water cartel’. The cartel corporations will instruct their government to send the citizens dressed in black to beat up the thirsty citizens. This is part of the ‘Philosopy of Jesus’ — avoid greed.

The first places for major conflict will be ‘trans-boundary’ water sources such as a shared rivers and lakes, but also where freshwater is scarce. We might expect problems on the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, and Colorado rivers.

We need to look at who controls the way we drink to see how we can keep water out of corporate hands. A typical example is occuring in Springfield. Not the propaganda television one but the town in Oregon, California. Citizens are rallying against Roseburg Forest Products to demand that the company cease its campaign to deprive them of their clean drinking water. The company is trying to seize control of the city’s water source which is a spring on a local mountain. This spring has provided the community with clean drinking water for its entire 100-year existence. The town officials are encouraged to sell the water supply to the private company, which will bottle the water and ship it to Japan. The company has sued local residents using strategic lawsuits as a bullying tactic that companies use to silence the resident’s free speech rights. The ‘justice’ system is being used for greed and gain rather than justice. An army of anti-Christian lawyers is working on the side of evil. It is a justice system working against justice. Under corporate communism you will not even have the right to drink the water falling freely from the skies. The company believes that it has rights over the water and can use the spring water for any purpose even when it deprives the locals of water.

Can a corporation build a dam and claim it has the right to all water? Corporations and investors in wealthy countries are buying up foreign farmland along with the accompanying freshwater facilities. We have landlordism of money in the form of usury. We have landlordism of land. We now have landlordism of water. Land was freely created by god for all living things to share. Money is man made commodity that costs nothing to create but is lent at great cost. Water falls from the sky as a freely given resource by nature. Yet all have been commandeered by the rentier class who are now creating a ‘money gate’ for our access to land, credit, and water.

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