January 31, 2011

WINNIPEG — Archbishop James Weisgerber says he won't drink bottled water where public water is available and has agreed to promote bottled-water-free zones.

Weisgerber made the commitment last month in signing a pledge card developed by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.

CCODP has issued the cards as part of its campaign to raise awareness about the growing world water crisis.

Right now one person in six does not have access to clean drinking water. By 2025, it is estimated two people out of three will lack access to clean drinking water.

Weisgerber said he does not drink bottled water. "Why would I pay for something that I can get out of my tap?"


Two trends have arisen in response to the growing water shortage. The first seeks to profit from it. Private companies know the law of supply and demand. When a resource is scarce, the demand for it, and thus its price, will go up.

This group wants to privatize water so it can profit by selling water. It includes large beverage companies and private companies who enter partnerships with municipal water services. In the process, prices go up and water becomes a commodity that you can have only if you can afford it.


The second response, which is that of the Catholic Church, recognizes that water is a sacred gift, a basic human right and a necessity of life to which all should have access.

As the D&P campaign slogan states, Life Before Profit. Let Justice Flow.

When people drink bottled water, they are rescinding their right of access to public water. In many cases, they also take away someone else's right to it as well as supporting the private water industry.

In many places around the world, including some aboriginal communities in Canada, where people do not have access to clean drinking water, money is going into private, bottled water instead of a public water system.

Communities in the global South have lost access to their traditional water sources because beverage companies have bought them up or taken so much water that aquifer levels are too low.

When people drink tap water they are supporting public water and access for all.