A war over water is being waged around the globe, and this enlightening documentary by Irena Salina is a clarion call to make access to this precious and life-sustaining resource a human right. Of the six billion people on Earth, 1.1 billion do not have access to safe, clean drinking water. Drought and other natural catastrophes are diminishing the world's supply of water, and the rest is being threatened with privatization.
In villages in the some of the poorest countries, water services have been taken over by multinational companies and cut off to those who cannot afford them. Companies such as Nestle, Vivendi-Universal, Suez, and Coca-Cola are tapping into fresh water supplies and taking advantage of this "blue gold." Water is a $400 billion dollar global industry, the third largest behind electricity and oil. Bottled water is more popular than ever, even though the National Resources Defense Council reports that a scientific study that tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of water found that about one-third of the bottles contained synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic.
Director Irena Salina presents a rounded and revealing overview of the water crisis through interviews with activists, experts, scientists, water company executives, and others. We were especially impressed with the commentary and work of Vandana Shiva who has spoken out against Coca-Cola's bottling plant in Kerala, India, which has polluted the community's water source, and the privatization efforts around the sacred river of the Ganges. Shri Rajendra Singh, known as "the waterman of India," shares his strategies for rainwater harvesting and water conservation in India's villages.
Other stories that form the heart and soul of Flow include a look at the people's rebellion in Bolivia to the pollution of a river by blood from a slaughterhouse runoff; the plight of poor people in South Africa who can't afford to get their water from government-run taps; the displacement of millions of people in areas where dams are being built; and water piracy in Michigan where a community has launched a campaign against Nestle.
The well-being of future generations depends on people being aware of what's happening with the Earth's water water literacy and Flow is a fine place to begin. It will give you an understanding of the global dimensions of the challenges which lie ahead and the progress that has been made by water activists waging a David vs. Goliath battle against multinational corporations.
Water, of course, is also a spiritual issue and a common spiritual metaphor. Although several of those interviewed explicitly address the spiritual dimensions of our relationship to the Earth's resources, the documentary as a whole carries an ecological clout. We close with a quotation by Theodor Schwenk, which states our perspective:
"Humanity has not only lost touch with the spiritual nature of water, but is now in danger of losing its very physical substance. The drying up of countless springs all over the world is a symptom of this development, and the great efforts that are being made on all sides to compensate for the damage done show how serious the situation is. A prerequisite for an effective course of action is the rediscovery in a modern form of the forgotten spiritual nature of those elements whose nature it is to flow."