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Water is Scarce but Cola is everywhere

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July 25  |  News, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

Safe Drinking Water is Scarce but Cola is everywhere – and so is Diabetes

Article excerpt featured in one of our Water Report e-zines about the challenges of safe drinking water in poverty-stricken areas.

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico — Maria del Carmen Abadía lives in one of Mexico’s rainiest regions, but she has running water only once every two days. When it does trickle from her tap, the water is so heavily chlorinated, she said, it’s undrinkable.

Potable water is increasingly scarce in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a picturesque mountain town in the southeastern state of Chiapas where some neighborhoods have running water just a few times a week, and many households are forced to buy extra water from tanker trucks.

So, many residents drink Coca-Cola, which is produced by a local bottling plant, can be easier to find than bottled water and is almost as cheap.

In a country that is among the world’s top consumers of sugary drinks, Chiapas is a champion: Residents of San Cristóbal and the lush highlands that envelop the city drink on average more than two liters, or more than half a gallon, of soda a day.

The effect on public health has been devastating. The mortality rate from diabetes in Chiapas increased 30 percent between 2013 and 2016, and the disease is now the second-leading cause of death in the state after heart disease, claiming more than 3,000 lives every year.

“Soft drinks have always been more available than water,” said Ms. Abadía, 35, a security guard who, like her parents, has struggled with obesity and diabetes.

Vicente Vaqueiros, 33, a doctor at the clinic in San Juan Chamula, a nearby farming town, said health care workers were struggling to deal with the surge in diabetes.

“When I was a kid and used to come here, Chamula was isolated and didn’t have access to processed food,” he said. “Now, you see the kids drinking Coke and not water. Right now, diabetes is hitting the adults, but it’s going to be the kids next. It’s going to overwhelm us.”

Buffeted by the dual crises of the diabetes epidemic and the chronic water shortage, residents of San Cristóbal have identified what they believe is the singular culprit: the hulking Coca-Cola factory on the edge of town.

The plant has permits to extract more than 300,000 gallons of water a day as part of a decades-old deal with the federal government that critics say is overly favorable to the plant’s owners.

Public ire has been boiling over. In April 2017, masked protesters marched on the factory holding crosses that read “Coca-Cola kills us” and demanding that the government shut the plant down.

“When you see that institutions aren’t providing something as basic as water and sanitation, but you have this company with secure access to one of the best water sources, of course it gives you a shock,” said Fermin Reygadas, the director of Cántaro Azul, an organization that provides clean water to rural communities.

Coca-Cola executives and some outside experts say the company has been unfairly maligned for the water shortages. They blame rapid urbanization, poor planning and a lack of government investment that has allowed the city’s infrastructure to crumble.

Climate change, scientists say, has also played a role in the failure of artesian wells that sustained San Cristóbal for generations.

“It doesn’t rain like it used to,” said Jesús Carmona, a biochemist at the local Ecosur scientific research center, which is affiliated with the Mexican government. “Almost every day, day and night, it used to rain.”

But at a time of growing strife between Mexico and the United States, fed by President Trump’s vow to build a border wall and his threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, the increasing antipathy toward Coca-Cola has come to symbolize the frustrations that many Mexicans feel about their northern neighbor.

The plant is owned by Femsa, a food and beverage behemoth that owns the rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola throughout Mexico and much of the rest of Latin America. Femsa is one of Mexico’s most powerful companies; a former chief executive of Coca-Cola in Mexico, Vicente Fox, was the country’s president from 2000 to 2006.

Nafta has been beneficial for Femsa, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment.

But in San Cristóbal, Nafta is widely viewed as an unwelcome interloper. On New Year’s Day in 1994, the day the trade pact went into effect, rebels from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation swept into San Cristóbal, declared war against the Mexican state and burned government buildings.

Although the two sides eventually signed a peace agreement, anti-globalization sentiment still simmers across the region, one of the poorest in Mexico.

“Coca-Cola is abusive, manipulative,” said Martin López López, a local activist who has helped organize boycotts and protests against the soda company. “They take our pure water, they dye it and they trick you on TV saying that it’s the spark of life. Then they take the money and go.”

Femsa executives say the plant has little impact on the city’s water supply, noting that its wells are far deeper than the surface springs that supply local residents.

“When we hear, and when we read in the news, that we’re finishing up the water, the truth is it really shocks us,” said José Ramón Martínez, a company spokesman.

The company is also an important economic force in San Cristóbal, employing about 400 people and contributing around $200 million to the state economy, Mr. Martínez said.

Critics, however, say the sweetheart deal between Femsa and the federal government doesn’t serve the city well.

Laura Mebert, a social scientist at Kettering University in Michigan who has studied the conflict, says Coca-Cola pays a disproportionately small amount for its water privileges — about 10 cents per 260 gallons.

“Coca-Cola pays this money to the federal government, not the local government,” Ms. Mebert said, “while the infrastructure that serves the residents of San Cristóbal is literally crumbling.”

Among the issues facing the city is a lack of wastewater treatment, meaning that raw sewage flows directly into local waterways. Mr. Carmona, the biochemist, said San Cristóbal’s rivers were rife with E. coli and other infectious pathogens.

Last year, in an apparent effort to appease the community, Femsa began talks with local residents to build a water treatment plant that would provide clean drinking water to 500 families in the area.

But rather than easing tensions, they plan led to more protests by locals and forced the company to halt construction of the facility.

“We’re not against the treatment plant,” said León Ávila, a professor at the Intercultural University of Chiapas, who led the protests. “We just want the government to fulfill its obligation to provide potable water for its citizens. How are we supposed to allow Coke to wash its sins after years of taking the water from San Cristóbal?”

But, for many in San Cristóbal, the ubiquity of cheap Coca-Cola — and the diabetes that stalks nearly every household — simply compounds their anger toward the soft drink company.

Mr. Martínez, the Femsa spokesman, rejected criticisms that the company’s beverages have had a negative impact on public health. Mexicans, he said, may have a genetic proclivity toward diabetes.

While scientific research does suggest that Mexicans of indigenous ancestry have higher rates of diabetes, local advocates say this puts even greater responsibility on multinational companies that sell products high in sugar.

“Indigenous people ate very simple food,” said Mr. López, the activist, who spent years living with rural communities as a missionary. “And when Coke arrived, their bodies weren’t ready for it.”

Ms. Abadía, the security guard, said she blamed herself for drinking so much soda. Still, with her mother’s health deteriorating, and having watched her father die from complications from diabetes, she can’t help but fear for her own well-being.

“I’m worried I’ll end up blind or without a foot or a hand,” she said. “I’m very scared.”

 

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/14/world/americas/mexico-coca-cola-diabetes.html

 

 

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World Water Day 2015

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March 22  |  climate change, Editorial, global warming, News, Nutrition, Opinion, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

World Water Day 2015

World Water Day logo

This year’s theme is Water and Sustainable Development

Visit http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/ for more details.

What does WATER mean to you?  Search #wateris and #WorldWaterDay

 

We spill it, drink it, bathe in it, cook with it, flush it, run it down the drain and the gutter, drench the lawn and wash the car with it.

While we waste perfectly good water and don’t give a second thought, the following statistics should be a sober wake-up call to all of us to be more respectful and conserving of this valuable resource.  Water is truly the lifeblood of our precious earth.

  • An astounding 1,400 children die every day from diseases linked to unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation.
  • Roughly 75% of all industrial water withdrawals are used for energy production.
  • There are 658 million people living without access to water in Africa.
  • By 2035, the global energy demand is projected to grow by more than one-third.
  • Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, which is 2,300 people per day.
  • 750 million people lack access to clean water, which is over double the population of the United States.
  • 82% of those who lack access to improved water live in rural areas.

The water crisis is the number one global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation) and the eighth global risk based on likelihood (likelihood of occurring within ten years), according to the World Economic Forum.

The UN says the planet is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless the world dramatically improves the management of this precious resource.

This is the conclusion reached in the 2015 United Nations World Water Development Report, “Water for a Sustainable World” launched in New Delhi ahead of World Water Day on 22 March.

The theme of 2015 it’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider to create the future we want.

water in hands

Join the 2015 campaign to raise awareness of water and sanitation. You can also contribute on social media though the hashtags #WaterIs and #WorldWaterDay.

World Water Day is marked on 22 March every year. It’s a day to celebrate water. It’s a day to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. It’s a day to prepare for how we manage water in the future.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day. 22 years later, World Water Day is celebrated around the world every year, shining the spotlight on a different issue.

We invite you to do your own research and see how you can make a difference.  Following is a link to  a short video by the UN to get you started …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Zwd4B_Zqw

 

 

 

 

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Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

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November 9  |  Case Studies, News, Research, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

Which is Safer?

Concerns over drugs, chemicals, and contaminants in tap water has prompted people all over the world to buy bottled water.  Recent studies have shown that 3 out of 10 households in Canada drink bottled water at home.

It’s estimated that 2.4 billion litres of bottled water were sold in Canada alone last year; about 68 litres per capita.  In fact, bottled water sales have surpassed milk and beer sales in North America, representing a $170 billion industry.

tap water bottled water

 

 

 

 

 

 

But is bottled water necessarily safer or healthier?  A recent investigation compiled by CBC News and reported by Kazi Stastna, provides a well-researched 7 point comparison of water quality, health risks, sustainability and impact on the environment.

At Puroxi, we maintain that proper treatment of an existing water source will provide safe, clean, clear, and nutritonal water, as well as many benefits, without affecting the quality and sustainability of our environment.

Please click here to view the CBC report.

 

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Climate Change | Water Shortage | Agriculture

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December 29  |  climate change, crops, Editorial, Farm, global warming, Nutrition, Opinion, Research, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

While the pundits and partisan experts continue to argue over the validity of global warming, there is little doubt that climate change is a reality.  The rapidly increasing changes in our climate are impacting our water supply.

Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have calculated how much of this essential resource the world risks losing to the effects of climate change.  Droughts will become more widespread and wildfires are expected to get bigger, longer and smokier by 2050. The growing world population and its increase in water consumption are also straining fresh water resources.  Water sources are melting and drying out.   

37 nations already make do with the bare minimum in water resources, according to experts at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a co-author of the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas.  Massive investments in efficient water management are necessary to counter the effects of water scarcity.

 Agriculture is the world’s largest consumer of water

In times of rising food prices, the agricultural sector has become more interesting for investors. Asian companies, particularly in China, as well as their European counterparts are buying up large swaths of land in Africa to grow food products. They, too, have a vested interest in good harvests and are keen on investment in any aspect of agriculture that offers a significant opportunity to reduce its demand for water. However, technical solutions to save water in agriculture will play only a small role due to the high costs.

Changes in the world’s agriculture and eating habits need to be re-examined

Hunger follows on the heels of water scarcity

Agriculture must change in order to counter dwindling water resources. Climate researchers warn of an increased risk of hunger, in particular in poorer countries, with farmers trying to adapt to cycles of recurring drought and extreme, torrential rains.  One way to counter these extremes is through organic farming, which strengthens the capacity of the soil to absorb water, to enrich it and later deliver it again to the plants.

Organic farming could also limit the spread of diseases and pests without farmers having to resort to pesticides.  Crop rotation and diversity would make it more difficult for diseases and crop destroyers to infest cultivated areas.  This was common practice for many generations before industrial farming began.

In addition, consumers will have to alter their habits in ways that include eating less meat and seeking out crops more attuned to local conditions.  In dry regions of the world, farmers could plant the cereal crop millet, which needs significantly less water than corn.

Another climate-friendly measure: growers and consumers should be located closer to one another to decrease theamount of shipments and transports.

Such changes would help feed a constantly growing global population.  Even today, the world produces enough food for 14 billion people.

We don’t need to produce more foodwhat we need is better quality and more diversity.

 

Source:  http://www.dw.de/climate-change-fuels-water-scarcity-and-hunger/a-17325128

 

 

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Water – “Nature’s Medicine”

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November 3  |  Editorial, Latest News, Nutrition, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

Safe drinking water is essential to humans and other lifeforms even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients.

80% of all illness in the developing world comes from waterborne diseases.

So, the most valuable medicine we could provide is a simple, clean glass of water.

Our SolarBag can help. It offers individuals and households anywhere in the world, the world’s best detoxification and disinfection solution for pennies a day.

Access to safe drinking water has improved over the last decades in almost every part of the world, but approximately one billion people still lack access to safe water and over 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation.[1]

Imprtance of Water

There is a clear correlation between access to safe water and GDP per capita.[2] However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability.[3] A report, issued in November 2009, suggests that by 2030, in some developing regions of the world, water demand will exceed supply by 50%.[4]   Approximately 70% of the fresh water used by humans goes to agriculture.[5]

References:
  1. “MDG Report 2008”. Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  2. “Public Services”, Gapminder video
  3. Kulshreshtha, S.N (1998). “A Global Outlook for Water Resources to the Year 2025”. Water Resources Management 12 (3): 167–184. doi:10.1023/A:1007957229865.
  4. “Charting Our Water Future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making” (PDF). Retrieved 2010-07-25.
  5. Baroni, L.; Cenci, L.; Tettamanti, M.; Berati, M. (2007). “Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems”. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61 (2): 279–286. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602522. PMID 17035955.

 

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BC Water Act

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October 19  |  climate change, Editorial, global warming, Latest News, safe drinking water, water conservation, water preservation, water stewardship  |   Webmaster

B.C. Water Act To Regulate Groundwater, Force Nestle To Pay

The provincial government of British Columbia has just passed their new Water Act, after four years of research and consultations with industry, communities, and First Nations to replace outdated legislation from 1909.

The legislation is focused mainly on the allocation of water and large scale users, like Nestle, who have been able to use unlimited supplies of fresh groundwater, without cost, will now be charged a nominal fee.

While this is expected to regulate groundwater consumption, while adding to the provincial government’s coffers, many critics argue that the act does not go far enough.  In fact, environment minister Mary Polak, even admits that the act will not cover off every single aspect of water protection and water use.

Nestle Bottled Water

For a copy of the news articles by Canadian Press and the Globe & Mail, click here.

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