The Concord Town Meeting warrant article banning the sale of bottled water in Concord (“Third try for ban on water bottles,” April 1) is positing two freedoms against each other. Concordians can vote to give up the freedom to purchase bottled water in town, and hopefully anywhere, in order to protect the freedom of communities to control their own water resources.
Society has often chosen to ban one freedom in order to protect a greater freedom, such as the ban on smoking in public places. All life on earth depends on water – our most vital resource. So which is the greater freedom here?
A 2006 research paper by the Alliance for Democracy’s Defending Water for Life Campaign lists 75 sites in New England and New York, including 11 in Massachusetts, where the bottled water industry has taken over local water resources. Every dollar spent for bottled water is a dollar in the pocket of the industry to buy up another community’s water supply.
We are in a period of global water crisis. The 3 percent of the earth’s water that is potable is becoming even scarcer as glaciers disappear and water resources are polluted by mountaintop removal, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and human wastes. Ground water is being withdrawn from America’s aquifers faster than the rate of recharge. Already 28 of our states are in water crisis. California, a major supplier of New England’s food during the winter, is predicted to run out of water in 15 years.
Maude Barlow lists in her book “Blue Covenant” three major problems with corporate control of water during this time of global water crisis:
■There is no profit in conservation.
■No corporation is in business to deliver affordable water to rural or poor areas.
■Nature will have to fend for itself.
Many universities and national parks have banned the sale of bottled water. With this warrant article Concord has the historic opportunity to start the movement among American towns to protect water for all and keep it in the public trust.
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