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Parched examines how Wall Street banks have taken control of water supplies in U.S.

Parched
Most people would say water is a human right but who pays for it? How can you cut someone off from something they need to live?

Parched is a new mini-series on National Geographic examining how competition for water is driving political, corporate and social interest in who owns and controls the very water we drink.

Water might well be abundant on our planet, but fresh water in the places it needs to be is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Some academics and commentors think it could even become the primarty cause of conflcits in the future, as the Earth’s climate changes and weather patterns are affected.

This first episode looks at worrying development whereby large Wall Street banks are buying up controlling interest in municipalities, which in turn control the water supplies of ordinary Americans.

Chemicals costing a few hundred dollars a day or less would have stopped the problem in Flint developing
Chemicals costing a few hundred dollars a day or less would have stopped the problem in Flint developing

It also looks at the very public case of Flint, Michigan, where the supply was switched from Detroit to the more local Flint river. The idea was to save money by taking more control and establishing a more local source.

However, for reasons nobody can work out the supplier decided to save a few hundred bucks a day and not use chemicals designed to stop pipe corrosion.

Testing of domestic supplies is now something nobody in these areas takes for granted
Testing of domestic supplies is now something nobody in these areas takes for granted

The result was a lead poisoning crisis that led to headlines across the world and highlighted the growing conflict between business and essential needs.

Don't pay your bill and you could be left with no water
Don’t pay your bill and you could be left with no water, but can we in developed countries really deny fellow citizens water? Won’t it backfire?

Also on this episode, what happens when the local water supplier decides to start saving money by switching off accounts that are unpaid. In Detroit if you were more than 60 days late with your bill or owed more than $150 then the supplier could cut you off without further warning.

A lack of power might be a pain and a lack of heating can be a worry but without water people’s very lives are endangered and indeed that of those around them as sanitation breakdown can spread disease. One academic reckons this puts people these people in a worse condition than those in third world who have little access to clean water, since at least they are used to coping with the situation.

Later episodes will look at water supplies that are toxic following humans and growing water wars that could soon move from being cold to hot.

Parched airs on Tuesday at 10:00 PM on National Geographic Channel.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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