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June Currents
Monthly Update from Water for All

Support consumers right to know about vended water in California

Ever wonder about the quality of water from those vending machines
outside supermarkets that advertise clean, filtered water from a clean
source? Vended water providers and retail water stores do not usually
provide consumers with information about where their water comes from
and what contaminants may be in the water.  Water sampled from vended
water machines has been found to carry non-compliance levels of
Trihalomethanes (THMs)-known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Currently, there are no requirements to educate consumers about the
water source or the level of contaminants present in their purchased
water. Consumers must have the assurance of knowing that vending
machines and retail water stores are regularly inspected to ensure
compliance with the law.  A new bill sponsored by California State Sen.
Richard Alarcón, SB 1302, would require stronger inspection requirements
and creates a consumer education program whereby consumers will know: 1)
contaminant levels, 2) the water source, and 3) the complaint resolution
process.  SB 1302 has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly.
Please write your state legislators and urge them to support SB 1302.
For more information and a sample letter contact Paola Ramos at or Alisha at

Watchdogging the World Bank - a 'new and improved' Newsletter from
Water for All

World Bank Watch monitors World Bank proposed (pipeline) loans to
provide water and sanitation services. Despite evidence that increased
cost recovery and privatization reduce access, the Bank continues to
promote these policies, which in turn increases the price of water for
the poor, exacerbates inequities, and reduces local control.  There are
many loans that have been already forced down the throats of the people,
but the loans in this document are still at a preparatory state which
provides the opportunity to organize against their approval. Please
spread the information to as many people as possible and help change
policies that work against civil society.  You can forward this
information to other groups and protest the conditions to the World Bank
task managers identified with contact information for each of these
projects. Cost recovery and privatization are in the interest of
multinational corporations, not the people!  For more information,
please go to

Public Citizen mole penetrates water investment conference, records

With the water sector becoming a hotter investment destination for
unscrupulous privateers, venture capitalists and private equity
managers, the Water for All Campaign has ramped up its operations from
the traditional efforts in organizing, advocacy and research to include
intelligence gathering. In a recent mission, our intrepid intelligence
officer, code name "Water Woman" braved slime and sleaze in penetrating
the "Wall Street Conference on Investing in the Water Industry," at the
Harvard Club in New York, on June 8.  Attendees and speakers, resigned
to continued public regulation of the U.S. water sector, discussed ways
to punish states whose regulatory environments private companies find
inhospitable. Water Woman reported all those involved to be enthusiastic
about the consensus that water is "undervalued," and people will pay
more. (This is because people need water to live, and unless they want
to die, they must pay what is charged to obtain it.)  For more notes,
details and general absurdity, go to:  For
details on an even more disgusting upcoming water investment conference,
with topics such as "Marketing Indian Water Rights," go to:

World Bank court threatens Argentina, defends Suez

The World Bank founded the International Center for the Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 1966 as a mechanism to protect foreign
investors from domestic court systems where it was unlikely they would
get as favorable treatment.  Suez has exploited the full possibilities
of this arrangement in Argentina bringing cases regarding its
concessions in Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, and Cordoba and demanding more
than $180 million in lost profits.  The Argentine government, struggling
against bankruptcy, has encouraged the city and provincial governments
to submit to the demands of Suez and re negotiate the contracts in order
to avoid the legal fees and potential payments of long drawn out cases
in the ICSID court.  In early June, an initial phase of the ICSID cases
was heard at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The Buenos
Aires case was suspended until January 2005 as the government has
arrived at a temporary agreement with Suez.  The judge gave the
authorities in Santa Fe 120 days and in Cordoba 105 days to re negotiate
with Suez in order to avoid ICSID court cases.

U.S. Congressional Resolution to defend water as a human right

In late June, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D Ill.) will introduce a
congressional resolution protecting water as a public good and a
fundamental human right.  A heartfelt thanks to all the consumer,
environmental, human rights, faith, labor, public health and solidarity
groups that have worked so hard to make this happen!  To date we have 86
organizations signed on and the following nine members of Congress as co
sponsors:  Reps. Raul Grijalva (D Ariz.), Chris Bell (D Texas), Marcy
Kaptur (D Ohio), Robert Wexler (D Fla.), Pete Stark (D Calif.), Bernie
Sanders (I Vt), Dennis Kucinich (D Ohio), Major Owens (D N.Y.), and Rick
Renzi (R Ariz.). Please encourage your congressional representatives to
co sponsor and support this resolution.  To view a draft of the proposed
congressional resolution go to:

Highland Park rejects water privatization

In a 4-1 vote the Highland Park Council in Detroit rejected the
proposed 10-year privatization contract for water management. Highland
Park is a largely low-income neighborhood in the Detroit metro area.
The vote happened after a heated public debate when it was revealed that
the contract included a bottled water measure where the company, RWG
(Rothchild-Wright Group Inc), would be allowed to use water from the
public reservoir for bottled water sale.  On June 18, the Highland Park
manager is meeting with the state treasurer and the Highland Park
Business Association (Highland Park has state oversight). This meeting
will potentially overrule the Council vote - stay tuned for updates. In
the past, local groups in the Detroit areas have fought water increases
and consequent cut-offs. Up to 40,000 families have been cut off from
water each year with devastating consequences.

Coming Up in our Next Issue!

*       Update on the Americas Social Forum in Quito, Ecuador.
*       A report on the fragile ecosystems of the southwest in the U.S.

***NEW Water for All Reports***

World Bank Watch

Juliette Beck
California Coordinator and Senior Organizer
Water for All Campaign
Public Citizen
510-663-0888 ext. 101
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.