The first time I was exposed to the notion that water rights would provoke warring among nations was back in college, where it was an interesting concept but hardly seemed imminent.
Now, as detailed by Sarah Schweitzer in the Globe this morning, the fight has even come to central Mass.
Nestle, owner of Poland Spring and other bottled water brands, wants to tap an aquifer in Clinton, but some in neighboring Sterling are objecting on grounds that the source lies within its borders, according to terms of a state law passed in 1882 that gives Clinton rights to surface by not ground waters in the so-called Wekepeke lands.
That's interesting in a historical perspective, and the issue has other tendrils, but to me it misses the important point, which is that anything that supports the bottled water industry runs counter to public interest.
A local spokeswoman for Nestle has the gall to call the company's plans environmentally friendly, because this water will go into 5-gallon bottles that can be reused up to five times, instead of into single-serving sizes. Think how environmentally friendly it would be if she had compared it to Nestle's now-shelved plan for "One Sips," the 1-ounce bottles that would have come in six-dozen packs!
The price offered in the deal is roughly 15 cents a gallon, and then Nestle would sell it for $8 a gallon, according to organizer Deborah Lapidus of Corporate Accountability International, the Boston-based nonprofit leading the fight against bottled water. For such a pittance, I think they'd be better off just keeping their water, which will only become more valuable over time.
Yes, it's easy for me to say, because they are not my taxes that will go down, or my services that will go up, as the result of a deal. But my share of our societal costs — the depletion of water, the accretion in our landfills — will definitely by affected by their decision.