Must potable water have a price?
Bottled Water – A Swiss Journalist on Nestlé Business Practice
A recent movie by Swiss journalist Res Gehringer and Director Urs Schnell (January 2012) raises what is an ethical dilemma concerning water: is water a commodity or a resource? For many people water is a resource because it is necessary to live (unlike beers or gasoline or petrol). For companies like Nestlé this is a commodity and a profit must be made in order for a company to strive and attract investors.
It’s not an easy problem. Water has a price, either in time or money. In rural Africa, for instance, digging and maintining a water well or a borehole costs money. If potable water is naturally available as a spring often the price is in time to fetch it. And if the water is not potable, money must be invested to purify, or to protect and mantain the spring.
On the other side, one cannot create a green island but making a desert around it. The documentary shows it well. Bottle water in Pakistan is to detriment of the local groundwater level which is allegedely lowered by they excessive pumping that Nestlé is doing. The result is less or no more water at the public wells in nearby poor areas.
Personally, I liked the documentary movie because it’s a rare opportunity to see the real situation of real people living in very different life conditions. All centred around water. Initially, I thought this report was only showing a local dispute about water resources in Main, USA, which would still be a good documentary. Instead, and while I was thinking of India, Africa on my own, the movie jumped straight and “ful speed” into the situation of exactly those places! This makes the DVD exceptional, in my opinion. In the end, the movie is IMO an outstanding contribution to raise awareness on the situation which is dramatically unfolding “under our eyes”. I wouldn’t necessary focus on Nestlé as such, because this is a general ethical, complexproblem and the solutions are not easy. In conclusion: a good documentary movie worth recommending and start making up one’s mind.