Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Right to water is serious business

Maude Barlow to talk on global water issue

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Maude Barlow is an international leader in the global water justice movement.

Turning on a faucet and having running water fill a basin is an action that many Americans don't think twice about. But in many other places, people do think about running water because they don't have access to it.

Maude Barlow, an international leader in the global water justice movement, will speak in Ketchum at the Presbyterian Church of the Bigwood on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' multidisciplinary project, "Water." Tickets for the lecture are $25 for Center members and $35 for nonmembers.

Barlow is founder of the Blue Planet Project, an international movement to protect the world's freshwater from the growing threats of trade and privatization. In addition, she is head of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization. Both fans and detractors have called her "the Ralph Nader of Canada" and "the Al Gore of water."

From 2008-09, Barlow served as senior advisor on water to the 63rd president of the U.N. General Assembly. She is also the best-selling author or co-author of 16 books, including the international best seller "Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis" and "The Coming Battle for the Right to Water."

"I am deeply involved in the process of the adoption of a resolution passed in July to recognize the human right to water and sanitation," Barlow said. "It didn't think it would happen, but 122 countries voted for it, so it's binding."

Barlow is almost constantly traveling as an advocate for global water rights. She called it the most important issue of our time, and said that establishing a working knowledge of the value and principles for water issues is paramount.

"We operate under the myth of abundance," she said. "We all learned back in school that there is a infinite amount of water in the hydrologic cycle. You can use water, do anything you want with it and it never goes away."

Barlow said that idea is wrong.

"We have to unlearn this notion that there is unlimited water," she said. "In 20 years, the global demand for water will outstrip the supply by 40 percent."

Barlow said we are destroying the water supply because it's constantly being relocated, it's not clean enough to use and we can't get to it.

"It's not just in Yemen, Pakistan or China," she said. "It's right here in North America. States, including Idaho, will face an extreme risk for water shortages. The demand will exceed the supply."

Technology will not come along and save the day, Marlow said.

In addition, Marlow said the lack of water is not solely a climate change issue. She said water is being exported from one country to another.

"Big business has total access to water without regulation," she said. "It will take brave political leaders to tell companies like Monsanto not to have water access."

More information on The Center's "Water" project, including details about a public closing ceremony scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, can be found online at

Sabina Dana Plasse:

Fish art party

The Idaho Conservation League and Sun Valley Center for the Arts are co-hosting a clay fish-making party with wine, hors d'oeuvres, water and eco-artist Basia Irland as part of the "Water" exhibition at The Center in Ketchum on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Participants can make a small fish from clay dug from the Big Wood River. Native riparian seeds, including wild iris, wild rose and aspen, will be embedded in the clay fish. With nontoxic natural dye, participants can paint words or phrases on the fish that represent a value that water carries.

"We have to unlearn this notion that there is unlimited water."

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