Written by Katherine Martinko / TreeHugger

The latest video from The Story of Stuff dives into the world of privatized water systems and why this impinges on a basic human right.

Access to clean, affordable water is a basic human right, but it is threatened by many cities in the United States deciding to privatize their water services. In a much anticipated new video called ‘The Story of Water,’ just released by environmental advocacy group The Story of Stuff, the process of privatization – and the dangers it brings – are explained.

As urban water infrastructure ages across the country and cities are faced with mounting maintenance bills, they become vulnerable to private corporations coming in and offering to take control. While such a transfer of control temporarily spares a city from having to pay out millions of dollars to fix its water system, this comes at a steep cost over the long term.

The goal of these corporations is, of course, to turn a profit, which means they must cut costs. The Story of Stuff reports that corporate takeover leads to an average job loss of 34 percent. Fewer workers means more frequent main breaks and service disruptions. Then residents’ water bills go up:

“Privately owned water systems charge 59 percent more than publicly owned systems, on average, making it difficult for people to afford their water bills, leading to water shutoffs that threaten the human right to water.”

The video proposes alternatives to avoiding privatization, and describes the groundbreaking steps taken by Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and South Bend to ensure that they never have to go that route. It also calls on viewers to sign a petition in support of the WATER Act. This would create a million jobs, and

“provide the major federal investment we need in our public water infrastructure to renovate our nation’s old and lead-ridden water pipes, help towns that are affected by water contamination, stop sewage overflows, and avert a looming water affordability crisis.”

For those people who do not live in the United States, there are many other ways to fight for water rights, such as convincing a local administration to pass a resolution that promotes safe, clean, affordable water. Another great suggestion is to encourage your community to use reusable water bottles, refill stations, public drinking fountains, and even stop selling disposable water bottles altogether.

You can watch the video below and find more information here.

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