Water Portal

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Welcome to the Water Portal on Powerbase

NB please note this portal has been archived as most of its related pages have not been updated since Powerbase's water project ended in 2010.

Welcome to the Water Portal on Powerbase—your guide to networks of power, lobbying and deceptive PR within the water industry.

Our water portal tracks and profiles global and regional governing institutions, lobby associations, policy planning organisations, think tanks and agents involved in the water industry. It includes those of a pro-privatisatisation persuasion but also those who are promoting an alternative vision orientated towards publicly owned and participatory systems.


Powerbase has a policy of strict referencing and is overseen by a managing editor and a Sysop and several Associate Portal editors. If you are interested in becoming a contributor on this issue please contact melissa.jones AT powerbase.info

Priority pages on Water

(This is a list of pages that need work)

The Water Debate

Water is vital to life. It is the essential component in all aspects and activities related to our well-being and existence – including food and energy production and manufacturing in general. It’s clear that if our water supply continues to dwindle, and/or, if water became unaffordable, our lives would be detrimentally transformed. Billions of people are already experiencing and suffering from the mismanagement and unequal allocation of water. Between 1.1 and 1.5 billion people in the world lack access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. 2.2 million people die each year due to low quality drinking water and/or lack of sanitation – that is 42,000 people per week, 90 percent of whom are children (WHO/UNICET:2005). Exclusion to socially necessary goods and services such as fresh water has horrific consequences that are catastrophic, yet entirely preventable.

The struggle over fresh water goods and services has taken the form of a conflict over increasing commercialisation, privatisation and liberalisation. This struggle takes place in an era of economic globalisation where neoliberal policies transform all forms of social reproduction so that all goods and services that were once held in common (things such as fresh water, education and healthcare etc.) are increasingly exposed to the free market and in many cases transformed into a form of private property.

This regulatory shift – from public to private – is by no means inevitable. The processes that facilitate this shift are a direct result of political and corporate elites exercising their power and will, through an organised network of connections, in order to achieve the free market conditions that are necessary to expand the reach of capital.

The Water Portal of Powerbase intends to expose and document the links between the political and corporate water elites. Contributions will ultimately reveal the elite social structure within which these elites operate, thus exposing the global water industry accordingly.


  • Economic globalisation and the increasing commercialisation of fresh water goods and services: deregulation, commodification, privatisation and liberalisation
  • Public versus private provision of fresh water goods and services
  • Water scarcity: a real crisis or an imbalance between production, distribution and consumption in the context of global capitalism?
  • Transnational water corporations and the enclosure of the fresh water commons
  • The water lobby
  • Global governance of the local commons
  • Water and human rights


Categories associated with this page:

Recent changes to pages on Water

References and Resources

Water Articles:

Karen Bakker, Neoliberalizing Nature? Market Environmentalism in Water Supply in England and Wales, Forum on Privatisation and the Public Domain, 2005.

Karen Bakker, Water: commons or commodity? The Forum of Privatisation and the Public Domain, 2003.

Maude Barlow, Our Water Commons – Toward a new fresh water narrative, Council of Canadians, 2008.

Maude Barlow & Tony Clarke, Who Owns Water? The Nation, 2002.

Grusky, Sara & Maj Fiil-Flynn, Will the World Bank Back Down? Water Privatization in a Climate of Global Protest 2004, Public Citizen, 2004.

Friends of the Earth, Privatization: Nature for Sale; The Impacts of Privatizing Water and Biodiversity, Friends of the Earth, 2005.

David Hall & Emanuele, Lobina, Water as a Public Service, PSIRU, 2006.

Erik Swyngedouw, Privatising H20: Turning Local Waters into Global Money, Austrian Journal of Development, 2003.

Eric Swyngedou, RE-TOOLING THE WASHINGTON CONSENSUS: The contradictions of urbanising H2O under neo-liberalism The Centre For Civil Society South Africa, 2008

Bill Marsden, Cholera and the Age of the Water Barons The Water Barons - The Center For Public Integrity, 2003

Daniel Politi, Privatizing Water: What the European Commission Doesn't Want You to Know, The Water Barons - The Center For Public Integrity

Kyle Mitchell and Tommy Kane, Money in the Water The Scottish Left Review, 2008

Kyle Mitchell and Tommy Kane, Governance of Water, Senscot

Pratap Ravindran, Water privatisation — Reaching epidemic proportions Hindu Business Line

Prof. Christine Cooper, Dr. William Dinan, Tommy Kane, Prof. David Miller and Shona Russell, Scottish Water The drift to privatisation and how democratisation could improve efficiency and lower costs Public Interest Research Network, Scotland

Naran Prasad, Water and sanitation privatisation: do poor people benefit? ID21 Urban Development

Shona Russell and Tommy Kane, Is Anything Public Anymore?, The Scottish Left Review May/June 2007

Water Websites:

Right to Water Launched by the Blue Planet Project, this is an excellent website with an extensive list of water resources.

Blue Planet Project A global initiative working with partners around the world to achieve the goal of water justice.

Council of Canadians Canada’s largest citizen’s organisation which promotes progressive policies in their numerous campaigns including, water, health care, trade, energy, food and peace amongst others.

On the Commons A network of citizens and organisations that champions the cause of the commons on many fronts.

Watertime A research project funded by the European Commission and carried out by various research Partners including PSIRU

Water Justice Waterjustice.org is focused on alternatives to water privatisation and how to finance public water, it is a virtual resource centre and meeting place for exchanging experiences, debate and strategies.

European Federation of Public Sector Unions (EPSU) EPSU represents Europe’s water and sewerage workers in both public and private companies

Id21 The natural resources Water Page of id21 is a research reporting service, bringing you UK-sourced research on developing countries.

Publications Waterwiki UN Waterwiki with various resources and used as a knowledge "map" and on-line collaboration platform for Water Practitioners Worldwide

Water Webster A web portal offering news and information about water today

[1] A website, managed by the Foundation For Water Research, providing information relating to the Water Framework Directive.

IFIwatchnet.org A website dedicated to monitoring the activities of the International Financial Institutions.

Bretton Woods Project Critical Voices on the World Bank and IMF

Water Journals

Water Alternatives An Inter-Disciplinary Journal on Water, Politics and Development

Law, Justice and Social Development Water Issue

Water Books:

Barlow, Maude (2007), ‘Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water’, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

Barlow, Maude, & Clarke, Tony, (2002), ‘Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water’, Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited.

Black, Maggie, (2004), ‘The No-nonsense Guide to Water’, Toronto: New Internationalist Publications.

Clarke, Tony, (2005), ‘Inside the Bottle: An Expose of the Bottled Water Industry’, Ottawa: Polaris Institute.

Hoedman, O, (et al) (2005), 'Reclaiming Public Water, Achievements, struggles and visions from around the world' Transnational Institute, Corporate European Observatory

Holland, Sjolander, Ann-Christin, (2005), ‘The Water Business: Corporations Versus People’, Black Point: Fernwood Publishing.

Petrella, Ricardo, (2001) 'The Water Manifesto', Arguments for a World Water Contract', London: Zed Books.

Shiva, Vandana (2002), ‘Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, Profit’, Cambridge Massachusetts: South End Press.

Urs,Kshithij and Whittell, Richard (2009) 'Resisting Reform? — Water Profits and Democracy', Sage Publications, India

Book/Film and Article Reviews

Kane, T, and Mitchell, K, Review of 'Blue Gold: World Water Wars' Scottish Left Review

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