The Moral Question?

At the core of the neoliberal ideology is the privatisation of public services. Water is a natural resource required by all inhabitants of this planet. A human right. Not simply a necessity to sustain oneself but central to the sanitation that has been at the heart of prosperous societies for centuries. The liquid of life, some might say.

Read the first article of this series on water by clicking here.

Globally, governments are over reliant on private enterprise to satisfy the demand of citizens/ consumers, due to a lack of investment in public safe water infrastructure. The prevailing issues apparent in the developing world have an understandable dependence upon obtaining clean water via the bottled water industry. However, we must remind ourselves bottled water companies are merely creating plastic bottles.

Read the second article of this series on water by clicking here.

Unfortunately, due to the cost of bottled water in the developing world, people who fall into the lower socio-economic classes are resigned to drinking water from unsatisfactory public infrastructure that is unsafe. Whereas the most wealthy in these developing countries are able to mitigate the risks associated with public water via the private water bottled industry.

It is widely reported globally that these issues for the average citizen in terms of accessing clean water are a global struggles and are not only confined to the developing world. In the United States, the water provided to residents in Flint had been met by a lot of public outcry for many years, as representative bodies, communities and activists alike struggled for clean water. This crisis in Flint was in terms of contamination that led to high levels of lead found in the average citizen’s kitchen tap.

The age old problem of a severely under-resource public infrastructure legacy, inefficient and unable to meet demand or required quality. Subsequently, this had led to the privatisation of water distribution via its delivery through national infrastructure by corporate entities. 

From a commercial perspective, the bottled water industry steps in to satisfy the remainder of the market. It could be argued that a well funded and updated public infrastructure could reduce, the need for developed nations at the least, their present over-reliance on private enterprise to step in to fill the market and arguably provide an alternative solution to the shortcomings of their countries public national infrastructure in terms of providing easily accessible clean drinkable water.

In contrast, across the United States various shopping malls provide gratis water fountains for people to fill their bottles or merely to consume. Obviously, in our modern society there would be necessary guidelines that would have to be adhered to in regards sanitation, if introduced in Ireland. Although this was recently mentioned in the news, as had the pilot introduction of public bathrooms at various locations around the country including Dublin that are a respite to citizens residing in the city. 

The lack of sanitation facilities around Dublin and the lockdown restrictions had implications that inhibited people from congregating indoors with people external to their housemates. The opportunity to create a more equitable and well supported public infrastructure in terms of both sanitation and consumption is possible and important for future generations, as a lack of inaction from grassroots and civil society will be met in tandem with lobbying from representatives of this multi-billion dollar industry. 

The public water infrastructure in parts of Ireland has a litany of issues ranging from inefficiencies and leaking to under-resourced and outdated. The potential to revolutionise and ensure that Irish Water is a well-invested public resource for ourselves but most importantly future generations must be a priority. Should access to the clean water of Ireland be enshrined into the constitution for all citizens? 

Written By: Stephen O’Brien

Previously it has been highlighted by an Irish academic and the Council of Canadians that the CETA (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement) would lead to the privatisation of Irish Water and the detrimental impact of this on Irish society. Click Here to read more –

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What you might have missed

Click here to read our previous coverage on the CETA. Click here to read our case study on Civil Societies specifically ATTAC’s fight against CETA/ TTIP and regressive free trade agreements.

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