Peter Neill is the Director of the World Ocean Observatory. He served as president of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York for twenty years. He edited the literary anthology American Sea Writing. He is the author of The Once and Future Ocean: Notes Toward a New Hydraulic Society.
In Cochabamba, Bolivia people rose up against the privatization of water. They marched and chanted “El Agua es Vida,” Water is Life. They drove Bechtel, the U.S. corporate behemoth out of Cochabama. How important is clean water? Just ask the residents of Flint, Michigan. Water is a huge issue. We expect it to flow when we open the faucet. Long showers, green lawns and swimming pools are considered almost a birthright. But with hotter global temperatures more and more parts of the world are water stressed. One of the triggers of the uprising in Syria was a prolonged drought. Israel has been using the aquifer in the occupied West Bank leaving Palestinians with very little thus exacerbating tensions and conflict. In Bangladesh, desperate people have dug so deep for water that it is contaminated with arsenic resulting in the largest mass poisoning in history.