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  • WaterWired
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Saturday, 27 December 2008

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College Student

Thank you for this very thorough review.

Patrick Maguire

Water is now relatively abundant to most people commenting here. That fact is diluting the understanding of how important this issue is.
The simple phrase "consideration for the poor" highlights the misunderstanding the potential water crisis could create. This is not an issue that can be solved by corporate dynamics. There will be two camps born from this seemingly unavoidable global squeeze; Those who seek to profit from it, and those who seek to diminish the impact.
Which of those paths do you think a corporation will follow?
Regardless of you trust in governments and municipalities, the corporation will certainly resort to profit seeking.

Jason Ruckel

Profligate water use is decried, but I detected no mention of pricing as a means to reduce demand and extend supply [David Zetland's smiling now!]. In fact, supply, demand, and economics in general seem to be absent from the discourse.

Actually, it seems demand shall soon exceed supply and that is why Monsanto, GE, Dow, Proctor and Gamble are going to invest. What movie did you watch? The economic benefit of controlling water supplies seems lucrative. "The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell."

Zoran

Hey Everyone,

I love the movie, but I need a subtitle in english. does anyone know where i could find it?
please let me know at zoran013@gmail.com

Joseph Freedman

The film also identified - in error - Lawrence Summers as an official of the Bush Administration.

David Zetland

Hi Nancy,

Michael sent me your post, and I have a few comments:

(1) Private companies...

Private companies can STILL deliver water at competitive prices if they are more efficient (which they are: http://aguanomics.com/2009/02/private-vs-public-water-provision.html)

They are NOT more costly, per se.

(2) transparency...

The same is true about "public" companies. My colleague needed to file a FOIA to get "public" information from a certain large, public company...

(3) cheap financing...

That subsidy costs "us" more elsewhere, and such "unfair competition" should be/can be offered to private companies elsewhere...

(4) profits...

Public companies return ZERO to their communities, since they run as "non-profits." For profit companies move profits to shareholders, who then reinvest the $$ where the benefits (opportunities) are greatest. That's capitalism -- and why we enjoy this lifestyle.

(5) volume for profits...

The same is true for public companies (i.e., they raise prices after people conserve because they need to sell water to break even.

Overall, I fear that your basic argument (like Maude's) is based on fear of/discrimination against for-profit companies. That's a pity, since the REAL problem is not public or private companies, but the lack of community oversight of monopolies (in any ownership form).

Nancy Matela

Hi again,

Yes, I had seen your article about Veolia and Yunus (one of my heroes). I'll be very interested to follow their progress. Perhaps Veolia wants to counter the black eye they've gotten over the years. When Yunus was in Portland last spring, he talked about his work with Dannon (French) to do a social business for yogurt and I've heard that it has been very successful.

Here's a link to a report on Veolia:
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/pubs/reports/veolia-environnement

And, a link to a report on Aqua America:
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/pubs/reports/aqua-america

Thanks for the dialogue!

Nancy Matela
Northwest Organizer
Food & Water Watch

Michael

Hi, Nancy.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

I do not think that privatization is inherently bad in all cases, which seems to be Barlow's belief.

A private water supplier would not necessarily be a monopoly, since presumably it would have to compete with other firms to win the contract for delivery of a municipality's water. An oligopoly, perhaps, but not necessarily a monopoly.

In the case of government delivery - that's it, you're stuck with one government (unless they compete with one another - like a city and a county).

Delivering clean water is not rocket science, but we're spoiled here in the USA. I've lived in places with great municipally-delivered water: Corvallis and Albuquerque come to mind. When I lived in Reno the water company was private and it was fine. However, I have been in places outside the USA where the municipally-supplied water was abyssmal. Would a private firm have done better? I don't know.

You might take a look at my post: http://aquadoc.typepad.com/waterwired/2009/02/muhammad-yunus.html

Privatization can work if: 1) the ground rules and expectations are clear and agreed upon by all parties; 2) there is OVERSIGHT; and 3) the extreme poor are not excluded.

I prefer municipal or other local government water systems but believe that all options need to be considered.


Nancy Matela

Mike, I am compelled to answer your hypothetical question of Maude Barlow: "why is privatization of our water so bad?"

While designing and constructing water delivery sources by experts make sense, the delivery of water is not a highly specialized technology and therefore is quite suitable for delivery by municipalities. And here are the reasons it doesn't make sense for private companies to sell us our water:

1) Private companies must make a profit on their goods and services for their stockholders because that's what they are in business to do. Most investment firms will tell you that the prospect looks great for water investments because the industry as a whole commands 15% to 20% return.

2) With private corporations, there is no transparency of operations.

3) Financing for private corporations is 2 to 3% higher than municipal financing because they are not eligible for municipal, tax-free bonds. They also must pay property and income taxes from which public utility districts are exempt.

4) Profits generated by the private water company generally leave the community it serves. The majority of U.S. privately-run companies are European multinational corporations such as Veolia (Wilsonville's operator) and Suez.

5) Water conservation is contra-indicated when a company's profits are dependent upon water volume.

And you expressed concern about the monopolistic nature of publicly-run water utilities. What do you think a private company with a 10-year contract to deliver water to ratepayers is?

By the way, Paris, France, where Veolia's parent company was founded in the 1800's to deliver the king's water to his castle, de-privatized its water delivery last June.
http://www.alternet.org/water/89982/?ses=7d421181f68a767ca5481b6c286f4f35

Nancy Matela
Northwest Organizer
Food & Water Watch

PAUL F MILLER

Review of the Film 'Blue Gold: World Water Wars ... I have not viewed the film though I have read the book and I suspect many of the comments submitted about the manner in which information is presented in the film have a certain degree of validity.

My own perspective is morphing into one where I am a bit more understanding of one's perceived need to GET ATTENTION to issues about water in this instance which they feel we have been loath to discuss.

Understandably this movie perhaps takes literary liberties with information which some find objectionable. Might the same be said of those in the "global climate community" who strive to eliminate and silence even their peers who will not summarily fall on the sword..?

I have no doubt coercion is used to posture one's favored position and they will in most cases go to whatever extreme is necessary to get heard and gain audience and thereby notoriety.

I live in Arizona and while do not claim to be a water expert I believe I am capable of reading the "tea-leaves" as well as anyone. Water in Arizona is legally described in a number of ways depending upon the agency providing the description. Leaving definition aside for the moment, the reality is water is Arizona operates pursuant to the "golden rule" ... he who has the gold, rule$ ...

I find at this juncture I support what I see as the underlying premise for these types of movies respecting water, i.e., to foster and champion the belief that
... everyone has the right to clean & accessible water, adequate for the health & well being of the individual & family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstances ... Article # 31 - United Nations ...

And I can accept were others to find this position far too Pollyanna ......

Respectfully,

Todd Jarvis

Congratulations, Sam. But Oregon State University already paid you $300 for a preview copy (meaning - the DVD has "Preview" burned onto the title of the film). Send us a new DVD without the Preview burned into the title along with a DVD case for our water film library and we will try to "share the love".

Sam Bozzo

Hi all BLUE GOLD fans,

Exciting news!

1) PBS Video has placed BLUE GOLD: WORLD WATER WARS on their site for US pre-sales at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=3477137 Those who buy now will receive the DVD March 10 and it will be in retail and rental stores April 7.

2) BLUE GOLD has been invited for its European Premiere in Paris at the European Independent Film Festival March 13-15. http://www.ecufilmfestival.com/ECU_2009.php?lang=en

To ensure the success of the film, I MUST raise money right away for promotional and festival costs (described below), as I am individual citizen self-funding this film from the start. I have been graced with a few grants which made production possible, but I do not have the backing of anyone. For a film to have impact, it must reach the largest audience possible.

To make donations easier, the non-profit organization Food and Water Watch (featured in BLUE GOLD), have been gracious enough to allow any BLUE GOLD donations to go through them, so that all donations are TAX-EXEMPT non-profit donations for 2009.

When PBS offered to be the US distributor for BLUE GOLD, my only concern was I knew it meant forfeiting a US Theatrical run, as no theatrical distributor will take a film if they don't also have DVD rights. The reason for this is theatrical runs really don't make much money for a documentary film, in fact they lose money most of the time. But they are very valuable as promotional tools to make people aware of the film and DVD. I chose PBS (over a second offer that had a theatrical run) because I knew with their brand and DVD distribution reach, BLUE GOLD will have the opportunity to be viewed by millions of US consumers well outside of the usual art-house theatrical run.

I sincerely believe that BLUE GOLD via PBS Video is the greatest opportunity for the water community to reach and recruit more people than ever in history. The task now is to make up for marketing that a theatrical run would have provided. It is up to the producer (me) to make people aware and get press. Two opportunities for this are;

1) Martin Robertson of Ideas in Motion has generously arranged 30+ screenings in 20+ countries on March 22, World Water Day, for a global BLUE GOLD event. http://www.thestar.com/article/579541 We must make people of aware of these screenings for his noble efforts to have impact, thus-

2) I have reached out to my film network to recommend top-PR agencies. A good PR agency is networked with top magazines, papers, shows, and all media outlets, and sets up interviews, reviews, and advertising for the film needed for the DVD's success. Of the top five recommendations, four were booked, but the best firm, mPRm (www.mprm.com), is not only available but very excited about promoting BLUE GOLD. mPRm handles promotion for the largest films and clients out there, including many of this year's Oscar nominees.

COST BREAKDOWN:

1) mPRm's fee is $8,000 for the two months of March and April (to promote the World Water Day screenings, the April 7 DVD release, and the entire Earth Day Month of April), and they require the first $4,000 my March 2 to get started in time.

2) The European Independent Film Festival requires the screened films to have French subtitles, which will cost between $1700 for a DVD to $4500 for a DigiBeta master screener.

3) I would like to travel and promote the film both at the European Independent Film Festival and the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival in Greece the following week. Cash donations OR AIRLINE MILEAGE POINTS are desperately needed for me to do this. Here's the cost breakdown;

a) European Independent Film Festival; $600 airfare, $500-$800 hotel
b) Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival; $1000 airfare, hotel provided by festival

For future publicity needs of 2009, I am also trying to raise funds for growing postal costs (thousands of dollars to date), posters, and future festival travel fees.

If you can give ANYTHING, please let me know and also contact Lane Brooks at lbrooks@fwwatch.org to make the TAX EXCEPT donation. If not, PLEASE pass this on to those you know who might be able to support such a cause. As you can see, my PR and subtitle needs are immediate.

Thank you for your consideration in helping fight the water wars through the power and wide reach of film.


Sam Bozzo
sam@purpleturtlefilms.com
www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com

Sam Bozzo

Thanks for posting my comment and responding. It's very interesting for me to hear your (and others "in" in the Water Community or Hacker Community for my other project) thought process as to the purpose of a film vs. the purpose of a book or a college course, etc.

My goal as a filmmaker is to raise awareness to a general audience who knows nothing about an issue, by giving flavorful examples to get them thinking and asking questions, not to provide all the details and facts of the stories, though those must exist.

My approach to this particular film was to find stories of kidnappings, murders, conflicts, bribes, blackmail, and corruption, because people can relate emotionally to these.

In my research, I found every other film on the subject to be "preaching to the choir", in this case the Water Community, but failing to excite or hold the hand of the average person with no idea this is going on. I was most pleased when BLUE GOLD played alongside FLOW in Vancouver at Vancity Theater and this review comparing the two, which I find very accurate; http://www.straight.com/article-175383/blue-gold-world-water-wars-flow-love-water That's why PBS is putting the DVD out, because they know a wide-ranging audience of viewers will appreciate the stories and the new ways of looking at the politics of water.

I view a documentary film as a documentation of people's opinions as much as anything. "Facts" change as science discovers new things. My Hacker documentary starts with Galileo being persecuted for saying the world moves around the sun, and I find some ironic similarities to your persecution of Kravcik's opinions of water's effect on earthquakes in the ocean.

It's his professional opinion. Nothing more. It's a fascinating way to look at water. If it were proved totally untrue tomorrow, it wouldn't change the fact that he believes it and I documented his opinions. To have issues with his opinions should be separate than having issues with the filmmaking, but that, too, is just an opinion :)

Thanks for the discussion and your passion in the real water wars!

Sam


Michael

Dear Sam,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

If you read my review you will see that I do in fact like a lot about your film and I tell people to see it. What I take issue with are some undocumented statements.

Nowhere do I say that Dr. Kravcik is not a "top-notch world scientist". In fact, I mention his NGO and its good work.

His plan to replenish ground water is fine, but it is nothing new. If you view the movie "FLOW" you will see reference to recharge projects in India. Dry wells for recharging ground water are found throughout the world, and when I was growing up on Long Island, NY, we had recharge basins, locally called "sumps", all over the place to recharge storm runoff. But for now, we won't discuss the water quality implications of such recharge operations.

What I take issue with is Dr. Kravcik's claim that ground water pumping and the resultant increased runoff to the oceans can induce earthquakes and perhaps tsunamis. Kravcik presents no documentation to support this serious contention and I have been unable to find any evidence in the refereed, mainstream, scientific literature. If he can produce a citation from a mainstream, refereed, scientific journal, I will correct my statement.

I am aware that increased loads (such as from reservoirs) can induce earthquakes on land. But I've not seen anything about a few inches of additional fresh water doing this in the ocean basins.

If you want to see a film that makes its point without playing fast and loose with the facts, see Jim Thebaut's recent film.

As for people enjoying your movie - I am glad for you, but that fact does not attest to the film's scientific validity.


Sam Bozzo

Hello all, I'm the filmmaker of Blue Gold: World Water Wars. Although I appreciate anyone's subjective opinions, I must defend any accusation that Michal Kravcik is anything but a top-notch world scientist. His Blue Alternative is the solution to ground water depletion by natural replenishment (as depicted in the film) and there are global plans in place with a major country/region right now (I've been asked not to talk about it yet) to implement his plan on large scale.

Having also done a documentary on Hackers not yet out, I sympathize that every community, in this case the Water Community, has passionate opinions, but it is an odd experience to view such opinions from the outside, where many of your pre-determined opinions on the cast or issues so clearly can be seen to prevent objective judgement.

I've seen the film in front of 6 audiences so far and the response is incredible. I don't mind at all that you don't like the film (for those few who saw it in this post), but
I'd invite all to view the film website www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com and read some of the press other than the above "insider" review which I find the least objective of all reviews to date.

Sincerely,

Sam Bozzo

Richard Heggen

Wait! You guys missed the disturbing fact that dams create reservoirs that accumulate mercury. They showed a picture of Lake Powell to prove the point. It would be very bad if the dam broke and a wall of Hg flooded Arizona and California.

Mark Knapp

Michael,

I just saw the film this afternoon at OSU, and I think your review is very good. My impression of Michael Kravcik was unfavorable when I saw the excerpts of his interview in the film. Aside from the accurate points you made, Kravcik also has the demeanor of a huckster who tries to baffle people with false authority.

But I take strong exception to some of the comments above by Jeffrey McLarty and David Zetland. Advocacy for "investing" is almost always a plug for trying to apply the "virtues" of the capitalist marketplace to an ecological problem that is largely CAUSED by that economic system. For all the faults she may have, Maude Barlow seems to at least understand that perpetual growth is a disaster for humanity. Capital investment, on the other hand, demands such growth.

Also, the promotion of LOCAL control in the film greatly diminishes the concern about "government monopolies" being worse than capitalism. If we limit our thinking to the false dichotomy of capitalism vs. state socialism, we will be deaf to the message that decentralization and small scale hold answers for future generations.

David Zetland

The best response to the "monopoly" objection is to point out that the worse monopolies are government monopolies. Check my blog on Jan 1 for a new years post on "many year's sin"

Jeffrey McLarty

Hey Michael,

I know why she has a huge following, it's because anybody who attempts to argue with her on the topic ends up sounding like a bastard. It's hard to articulate, WHY no corporations will ever create monopolies in the space. WHY capital expenditures require a quantitative return. WHY everybody on earth, simply can't have the water they need - unless they move.

I'll argue, that humans don't have the right to water. I can convince most, by asking a hypothetical/extreme question. "What if, by some phenomena, humans started reproducing at age 3, and a baby only needed a week in a womb. We would be at 10 trillion people, before no time at all, overnight practically. Would ALL those people, still have, "the right to water"? They'd like to, but, it's just not possible.

Michael

Hi, David and Jeffrey.

Thanks for your comments - much appreciated. I received a couple of similar comments off-line.

Barlow's objection to privatization does not see to be based on logic; she just "hates" it, I guess.

The disconnect between wasting water and the desire to give it away for free in developing countries is apparently lost on Barlow and Clarke.

It bothers me that Barlow has such a strong following. And now, she even has the UN imprimatur. Duhhh...

David Zetland

Great post!! Thanks for saving me the effort of both watching and reacting to the film.

I COMPLETELY agree on the holier than thou, selective use of facts problem, and I am praying (NOW I need gods' help) that Barlow et al. do not cause major damage with UN rules and regulations that reflect their ideology.

...off to pray (and write my bloody book; people need to understand economics before they run off and break things!)

Jeffrey McLarty

Bravo.

I'm a new comer to the online discussion, however have spent a couple months now on getting ramped on the world's water issues. I'm genuinely worried about the 50 year outlook, but I'm all for INVESTING in those solutions. I haven't watched her movie, or read her book, as I was scared I'd be enraged by her spew. Your post confirms my hypothesis. I have a draft post tearing Maude's interview at E&E apart, but I'll save the hate for another day.

See you around the sphere'

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