Published on April 20th, 2009 | by Sean Daily5
GTR: Blue Gold: World Water Wars Director Sam Bozzo (Part 1)
Sean Daily: Hi everyone, welcome to GreenTalk Radio. Iâ€™m your host Sean Daily. Water is the source of all life. Most of us take it for granted. And few people would think of water as something that wars might be fought over. Or as something that might someday be less available or even unavailable to inhabitants of the planet. In films, like the one created by my guest today, are beginning to change that way of thinking. And, like an Inconvenient Truth did for bringing awareness to global warming and climate change, Blue Gold: World Water Wars by director Sam Bozzo, is beginning to change the way people think of water. Sam Bozzo is an American documentary filmmaker and also the owner of a production company called Purple Turtle Films. Found online at purpleturtlefilms.com. His latest film, Blue Gold: World Water Wars, premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival last September. The film, narrated by Malcolm McDowell, takes a hard look at the coming, and for some, present, water crisis facing our planet. One quick editorial note before we get started. This is actually a two part interview with Sam. He has some fascinating stories that I want you to stay tuned for in part two. And that we will release a few days afterward on bluelivingideas.com, greenlivingideas.com, and other sites that syndicate the show. So Sam, first of all, welcome to the program.
Sam Bozzo: Oh, thanks for having me.
Sean Daily: Itâ€™s our pleasure. So, I watched the film last night and I wasnâ€™t really sure what to expect, and I have to say that I was truly blown away and very disturbed in watching it. I think maybe even more so than I was when I first watched an Inconvenient Truth many years ago. Um, â€˜cause uh, thereâ€™s just, thereâ€™s so much going on, it was a real eye opener. Uh, and uh, again, disturbing but also like there was a lot of hope in there. So, well letâ€™s talk about the film. First of all I want to congratulate you on the success of the film. Uh, I know that it is starting to win awards and itâ€™s made its rounds around the world with the premiers and so forth.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. No, thank you. And Iâ€™m really happy. Um, PBS video is going to be doing the distribution. Itâ€™s actually coming out Tuesday on the DVD. And Iâ€™m happy about that because I made it…I really wanted to get this to its wide a general audience as possible. You know, as opposed to specific, so I am really happy to have that PBS branding there, uh, to help with that.
Sean Daily: So where are you in the release, uh, I know thatâ€™s itâ€™s gone around the, you know sort of the debuts and the film festivals. Is the official a DVD from North America…is that out yet?
Sam Bozzo: Thatâ€™s coming out Tuesday April 7th.
Sean Daily: Okay.
Sam Bozzo: And um, theyâ€™ve been ordering it. You can buy it online at shoppbs.org. But it will be in stores on the seventh.
Sean Daily: In watching the film there are so many issues that come up around water. Itâ€™s kind of amazing. And in a lot of ways in kind of feels like a perfect storm. No pun intended. Um, around water. Uh, for the planet. And that sort of…I think it really, drove home, what a crises we are facing. And, I think, what is somewhat surreal about it to me is how little of it is known to the general populace.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. Absolutely. When I um, I mean I actually did a narrative films. My background at film school and short films. And I was writing a script with a producer for the…a sequel to the sci fi man who fell to earth, and thatâ€™s an old sci fi where David Bowie was an alien whose planet was running out of water and they came here looking for our water. And we thought weâ€™d be clever and think about twenty years from now what if we started running out of water which seemed…you know…just preposterous to us. And Si the producer found the book Blue Gold. And I read it. And thatâ€™s when I um…and like you, I was just blown away. What was actually happening, had already happened…um, was, was bigger than anything we were coming up with for a science fiction. And um, you know, thatâ€™s when we put down the project. And I said you know, I have a camera. I won this camera from Kevin Spacey from a short film contest. And so I had that and I, you know, I knew I could uh, could do a documentary fairly cheaply. I thought, just from traveling and um, I just thought it had to get out there. I had to do it just clearly as a documentary and try to get the information out before going back to that project.
Sean Daily: So now, uh, the authors of the book, Iâ€™m curious how you first made the connection. I think itâ€™s a Maude Barlow, who is a very famous water expert, speaks for the United Nations and pretty much everybody that uh, needs an expert on water speaking…uh, and then Tony Clarke…tell us about that relationship and how you first came to know them.
Sam Bozzo: I got very lucky. Once Si found the book, I um, I contacted the publisher listed in the book and I figured that they would want a lot of money and that would be that. You know, but I thought Iâ€™d contact them. But as it turned out, the first publisher who I contacted, had uh, lost the book somehow and sold it to somebody and in that process they didnâ€™t have the film rights so the author still had the film rights. And uh, they were immediately friendly and excited that I was going to do this. And um, in fact I started the film by trying to figure out what their schedule would be going around in the fall around the world. And um, so there was this timeline to get started. And I found uh, a funder, after I had the authorâ€™s blessings. I found a funder, and I bought all the equipment on credit cards, all the plane tickets on credit cards, and then the night before the shooting started my funder backed out completely. And I was actually going to uh, back out of the project. I was going to return everything. And itâ€™s uh, itâ€™s a semi…it sounds like a corny story except that itâ€™s true. I was going to tell my wife. It was the night before shooting that it was all off. And my son who was three years old at the time. I devote the film to him because of this. And he had woken up from sleep and he was in the hall and I said why are you awake and he said he was thirsty. And it just uh…and I just got him a glass of water and it was in that process that I decided uh, I just never said anything. I figured the money will come as I go and I got up and kept shooting because all the plans were there. I just had it all on credit. But once the authors found out I was doing that they helped me find a couple grants but itâ€™s still been a struggle since then. But itâ€™s certainly something I am glad I did. Uh, knowing, that I would uncover all the things you saw in the film, I donâ€™t know if I would have got it started knowing the scope of it. But once you got started it seemed I had to go on a global level and find as many of these stories as I could. And I was surprised that it was very easy to find stories. It was hard choosing them. I mean the first cut was four hours. Thereâ€™s tons that isnâ€™t there. And uh, itâ€™s just amazing uh, how much of this is going on as you said with little or none known about it.
Sean Daily: Well, truth again, it is very well edited, I mean I think that it doesnâ€™t meander at all. And it uh, it seems that uh, again, I there are so many areas that are covered, it, itâ€™s almost at some point youâ€™re like stop I canâ€™t believe that there are this many crises around one topic you know, but certainly Maude and Tony, both who appear in the film as on camera experts and they really represent two different perspectives and I appreciate it. Heâ€™s is more of the impassioned guy and she is this really well spoken expert who just really knows her stuff and sheâ€™s a true scientist and clearly knows what she is talking about. Um, and so together I thought that they really presented uh, the facts very well. It doesnâ€™t, it doesnâ€™t, it did not come off to me as alarmist in any way. Um. But the facts themselves are alarming. So letâ€™s talk about the specifics of the film if we could. I would like to dive in first of all…letâ€™s just summarize…because I said there are so many…letâ€™s just summarize maybe some of the basic premises of why we are in this situation and what that situation is. Um, it seems that weâ€™re ….the film starts off by talking about the desertification thatâ€™s occurring of the planet. And we are essentially desertifying . And, and, and….
Sam Bozzo: Right. Yeah…what I liked about the book itâ€™s broken up into three parts. The crises. The politics. The way forward. I added water wars in there because thatâ€™s the ultimate end of the politics and what I ended up focusing on. But yeah the crises…I mean, what really we need to think about…is that we are pumping ground water much faster than weâ€™re…than rain can replenish it. And we are pumping it mostly through agriculture needs and through uh, industry needs. People donâ€™t think about cars needing water, you know. Everything you make need the factories, need water to make it. And so you have these giant, giant, industrial world pumping much more water from the ground than thatâ€™s going back in. And creating a desert. Um, the water thatâ€™s used goes down the drain and most of the time goes to the ocean. Um, and then, what we end up having…uh, when you have a desert, is when it does rain, the water just slides right off. It doesnâ€™t soak back into the ground. And so it goes to the ocean through rivers. And what we end up having is a ocean with all the fresh water which is why you see…one reason you see increased hurricanes and increased drastic weather. Um, weâ€™ve gotten used to blaming everything on carbon. And, and, and thatâ€™s very important. Iâ€™m so glad that we are hitting the carbon issue. But, what, what, a lot of these experts are saying is even if we got rid of all carbon emission tomorrow, we are going to have weather change. We are going to have climate change. Because as long as we have a desertifying land, and hurricanes over the ocean, thatâ€™s not, you know, the, the, thatâ€™s going to increase the weather change we are seeing.
Sean Daily: And we are also seeing ancillary issues. And not to divert this but then there are also issues like the relation between the increase of CO2 acidifying the oceans and then affecting the fish population. You know, so these things are all so connected.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. The pollution…yeah the pollution angle is definitely connected with carbon. So what…I mean the important thing is so what if we are turning into a desert is that, we have so much fresh water that itâ€™s always been on the planet, itâ€™s never going to be more or less. Itâ€™s a finite amount. And the thing is whatâ€™s usable to us. So some people say we can never run out because it is always the same. But if we are dumping it…if itâ€™s all in the ocean…or if itâ€™s all polluted…those are the two main, you know, issues when you get down to it…then we canâ€™t use it if we donâ€™t have access to it for a growing population. And thatâ€™s when…thatâ€™s really what the crises is about is our population is growing uh, and yet we are running out of water for it. And as that continues, what sources of drinking water we do have…who controls them…becomes uh, incredibly important to the whole political structure in the next twenty years.
Sean Daily: So water is not water. Not all water is the same. And that we are basically….we are perverting water that would be otherwise usable by life and taking it and putting it into a state where it is not usable. And so…
Sam Bozzo: Right, either by letting it go to the ocean or um, from over ground water use or by polluting it to the point where we canâ€™t use it.
Sean Daily: Right. And you, and you talk about the ways in which thatâ€™s happening and there are unfortunately the, the…the means are myriad…as it turns out. So you mentioned the hard soil run off so as the desertification occurs the soil gets harder, that causes more run off to the rivers. And then letâ€™s talk about, if we could, talk about the damming of the rivers. Which I did not no about.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. Me too. At first, at first, you know, going into this, I think it helped not to know anything, because um, I, you know, there are so many times if youâ€™re…if you know a little bit about it you can skip over the basics and so I really was careful. If I didnâ€™t understand something I wanted to get to the bottom of it. So I had no idea, why are dams bad? Whatâ€™s so, whatâ€™s so bad about a dam? Itâ€™s getting clean electricity. Why is that a problem? And um, especially since if the problems…if one of the problems getting fresh water to the ocean and wonâ€™t dams be a help by stopping it even, you know. But the bottom line is um, dams are caused…there, there, stopping the water flow. And what rivers do is they carry nutrients down stream. And so, that keeps the land fertile, uh, so that, uh, you can grow crops so that it doesnâ€™t desertify. And so when you block a dam you are blocking a giant reservoir of water, the down stream now is going to become more eroded. Uh, just because there are no nutrients getting to it. And the water behind the dam becomes stagnate and unusable itself…highly polluted with mercury from the flooding of the area. So, you are really um, youâ€™re, youâ€™re making the desert problem on both sides of the dam. And we have fifty thousand dams worldwide. Giant ones. Itâ€™s crazy. So weâ€™ve become so uh, dependent on this for electricity that you can really see that one of the solutions presented are micro turbines . Or there are many other kinds of ways to get electricity from flowing water without blocking it. And I can see in the future, uh, I mean, uh, removal of dams being a major part of the solution, as we go solar more. You know, it will just make more sense. But um, itâ€™s hard…itâ€™s taken so much time to make these dams itâ€™s hard to think about removing them. But itâ€™s something we will have to deal with.
Sean Daily: Well I can only imagine too there like many things…there is going to be pressure from both private organizations, private companies and government bodies against that. I mean that, that canâ€™t be an easy thing to do. To dismantle a dam.
Sam Bozzo: Well and also, itâ€™s interesting um, one thing I had to kind of cut from the film but one of the big solutions for this, uh, in Slovakia Dr. Kraftcheck made this thing called the blue alternative in the film. Where…and that was in response to a dam, uh, in Slovakia the government wanted to put this giant damn that was going to flood, uh, a lot of villages. And just, you know, displace a lot of people. And um, so he said well this is ridiculous we can, we can um, we can solve this issue by just keeping more water in the ground. By, by replenishing ground water. So thatâ€™s where he started. They started by terracing the land into little water catchments which allowed rain water to be caught, seep into the ground. And keep the ground water, you know, in its place. And um, that plan is really important. I think thatâ€™s the root solution to everything because, uh, if there is no demand for water, if everyoneâ€™s got it around them, then there is not going to be this ownership problem which weâ€™ll get into with the politics of who, who controls it. And um, but that came as a direct alternative to a dam. And they did fight it. Uh, very much. Um, because they….thereâ€™s a lot of money in making a dam. Uh, a lot of people get paid and, and, itâ€™s uh, political issue of its own.
Sean Daily: One of the experts on camera was the woman from India. I do not recall her name.
Sam Bozzo: Vandana Shiva. Sheâ€™s amazing.
Sean Daily: Yeah. She was talking about….she was drawing an analogy that uh, she was talking about the changes to the hydrologic cycle. Um, as was Tony Clarke and that, also that we should think of this as, uh, that rivers are to the earth, uh, as the circulatory system is to the human body. And that by damming up the river itâ€™s like clogging the arteries. And….
Sam Bozzo: And thatâ€™s a heart attack.
Sean Daily: And thatâ€™s a heart attack.
Sam Bozzo: And the planet is headed for…itâ€™s having spasms of a heart attack in a sense. Which is a good analogy. Itâ€™s absolutely accurate.
Sean Daily: Yeah. And the idea that these rivers are carrying these nutrients into the echo system and we block them up….we naturally….it just makes sense….it makes, makes logical sense, you donâ€™t really even have to be any kind of expert for that for that to appeal to your logic. Um, so letâ€™s switch topics. Iâ€™d like to talk a little a bit about…also the sink hole issue and some of the issues that, by pulling the water out….which is….what you mentioned happening….where…we are pulling water out of um, our watersheds, and that one of the things that is happening…an example was given of….historical example of fabled Atlantean city of Ubar. A city that disappeared but was later found by um, archeologists. It was found collapsed into the desert sand. That was from….they had been also pumping out ground water which created some giant sink holes in the city and that you pointed out in the film, or somebody pointed out in the film, thatâ€™s actually happening today in places even like Florida in the United States.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah, there are giant…what happens….I didnâ€™t understand….starting this….I didnâ€™t even understand how ground water works. Itâ€™s not so much that thereâ€™s a lake underground, in a big cavern, itâ€™s, itâ€™s in the mud and the sand. The waters kind of mix and it just gets….you know, itâ€™s within the dirt. So when you dry that out you have air pockets within the dirt structure that used to have water. And eventually, that, that, if there is too much weight will just collapse. And in Florida you will have entire….there was a picture in there, I forget how big it was, it looked like six city blocks just that totally collapsed into a giant sink hole. But what also happens, is what is less evident is that entire regions will just slowly and evenly go down like in the San Joaquin Valley there was….thereâ€™s a picture in the film of where it was in 1970 the entire horizon landscape of farm land. And itâ€™s gone down some fifty feet. Just from slowly subsiding. Um, and so, you know, but as far as the uh, the dangers of collapsing cities…Mexico city is also an example in there…and thatâ€™s the most drastic that I see. There, there one of the first major cities to run out of….that will run out of water. Sydney is another one. And um, Beijing. But theyâ€™re pump….theyâ€™ve pumped so much that you can see churches are just slanting…entire buildings….the whole…you know you really see it dramatically how the city is starting to collapse.
Sean Daily: You actually had a picture on there of a tilted….you could see the picture of the church and not even with the ground….it was a visible tilt.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. So itâ€™s getting very evident. Um, and, which is, in one sense good, because people need to see problems before they deal with them. And I think one big issue with it being underground and ground waters, we never see ground water. So, itâ€™s hard to imagine, what itâ€™s doing to us by, by draining it so quickly.
Sean Daily: I think it is that out of sight out of mind nature of this that make it uh, so sort of insidious you know in a lot of ways. So itâ€™s funny you mentioned that place in Florida, thatâ€™s actually Winter Park which is near where my brother lives. So that was extra disturbing because I felt like I needed to pick up the phone and call my brother Craig and let him know you are sitting on top of a sink hole.
Sam Bozzo: Oh yeah, exactly.
Sean Daily: So, I think again, and I talked about this, feeling like a perfect storm, another aspect of that, was the fact that of the over population and migration to, to cities of our population which is well known. But, and then, about cities themselves for exacerbating this because you have concrete in cities and so you have this hard pack that obviously concrete cannot absorb the water. So we are essentially, we are interfering with the hydrologic cycle by paving everything.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah and I never thought of that either until this film. And uh, Dr. Kraftcheck again, he did a….he did a sample….he started studying since world war two and when we really started paving everything after world war two and things got more and more industrial. Started studying in his hometown and in Slovakia, how much water was being wasted just by that. And then you, expand that to the world. And it really is its own issue. Um, and it goes….itâ€™s an easy issue to see because pavement you can tell why water wonâ€™t be going into the ground. And it really points out um, why water catchments within cities….thereâ€™s even a permeable pavement solution that they have where there is some pavement where the water can seep through and be filtered. And thatâ€™s what we are going to have to see but um, yeah our own, our own desertification of pavement in a way is also was an interesting aspect to this.
Sean Daily: Yeah. Well, I have so many other questions for you and I want to talk about water privatization and water rights and all that good stuff but we are going to take a quick break right here and I will be right back and my guest is Sam Bozzo, he is the director of Blue Gold: World Water Wars. A new documentary. That will be out soon on DVD. Hopefully by the time you are hearing this. And you can find it on their website at bluegold-worldwaterwars.com. Or on the purpleturtlefilms.com site. Or I suppose on Amazon.com is that right Sam? Is it on there?
Sam Bozzo: Or a shoppbs.org. Uh, PBS has it out and also at Amazon.com.
Sean Daily: Okay great. Weâ€™ll be right back on GreenTalk Radio. Thanks everyone.
Sean Daily: And we are back on GreenTalk Radio and this is Sean Daily. We are talking on water today. I am speaking with American documentary filmmaker Sam Bozzo. Heâ€™s the director of Blue Gold: World Water Wars. Sam, we were talking before the break about the film. And we were focusing on some of the basic issues around why we have desertification, um, the depletion of our watersheds and the run off to water….things like this. I think the, the elephant in the room we havenâ€™t talked about so far, and I wanted to save it â€˜till after the break because it deserves itâ€™s own segment, is uh, water privatization, and the threat of….that many perceive of multinational corporations that are…. as many say stealing our water essentially while we sleep. So, letâ€™s just start with some of the issues that are brought up in the film. Uh, and some of the examples of things that have happened. If I am to understand this correctly, what is happening is that these large multinational corporations….and thereâ€™s a big three that are sort of mentioned…Suez, Veolia, which is also Vivendi and RWE-Thames.
Sam Bozzo: Right.
Sean Daily: And these companies in various forms. And other companies as well. Not just those three. Um, have, basically what they are doing is going to various places that are….theyâ€™ve identified this coming crises and value of this com, this finite commodity and depleting commodity of water as a profit incentive and that theyâ€™re essentially going in and going to poor countries or even in the United States in case of the Great Lakes and in Illinois and saying hey listen we want you to privatize your water and some sort of exchange happens sometime a bribe of politicians and as it happened you give the example of an Illinois governor or going into third world countries for example and the world bank essentially giving favors for uh, reducing national debt in exchange for the privatization of water so that these private….these multinational private corporations can come in and essentially own the water and then export it, sell it, and even sell it back to the indigenous people for a profit. Um, thatâ€™s unbelievable to me. Is that where we are?
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. Thatâ€™s what amazed me about this story is um, you know thereâ€™s been a lot of complaint or a lot of focus on you know the value or problem with global economy in general. With global trade and with um, you know sweat shops in certain countries, and, when water enters that field though, I think they are really crossing, the system is crossing that it really canâ€™t come back from because people just wonâ€™t have….they wonâ€™t take it. Weâ€™ll handle gas happening….uh, the price is being raised and everything because honestly when we run out of oil weâ€™ll finally go to solar. I think, just, you know, weâ€™ll go on. Um, but with water, what they found, what they didnâ€™t realize, is people just wonâ€™t stand for it. Um, and just to go back track a little, they, it started, you know, French, started, privatization started in….with Napoleon in France and thatâ€™s why the big companies are there. And it wasnâ€™t so bad when it was local. What happened in the Reagan-Thatcher era is when we started this global economy, thatâ€™s when they expanded. And they did exactly what you said. They said oh well Bolivia needs water. Letâ€™s go buy all their water. And um, then you know, they buy the entire system. Itâ€™s cheaper to deliver than it is to maintain. Thatâ€™s why you have a big pollution problem. You know, a lot of….we can talk about Mexico in a second, remind me. But they um….and then they end up raising the prices to the point where in Bolivia, uh, they were paying more for water than for food. They were paying half their salary for water. And, and eventually a boot maker named Oscar Olivera, started this protest….which started as a protest and ended up taking it to the streets which turned into a revolution. And the government actually sent the military out there to protect the company. And started putting snipers in the crowd and shooting people. Um, eventually, the government realized, they were going to be overthrown. And they kicked out the company. But it was a great….thatâ€™s a very good example of how uh, how this can go horribly wrong. And what hit me was yes, itâ€™s the corporations, but I do want to stress though, you know, corporations by nature are there to make a profit. They are not social service agencies. So, the other issue and maybe the bigger one arguably is, why are the governments selling to them?
Sean Daily: Right.
Sam Bozzo: You know itâ€™s the governmentâ€™s job to take care of people. So if Veolia comes to you and wants to buy all of your water, why did Bolivia sell to them? And thatâ€™s where you get the corruption. Most of the time itâ€™s for an influx of cash. Directly. A lot of corruption stories I told in the film. And thatâ€™s the juggling act we are going to see here. Is holding our governments accountable for just not selling the water in the first place.
Sean Daily: What was particularly egregious to me were the countries for example in Africa. Uh, that were not able to sell their goods at fair value prices. Even goods labeled as fair trade, for example. Because uh, in my understanding from the film was that what is happening is that they are being told you cannot charge the tariffs, the export tariffs, for them to be able to pay off their debt. And so they are not able to sell at a fair price their goods and so they canâ€™t make as much money. And so, and then, and then, theyâ€™re exploited also on the water privatization side so that these companies come in. So, itâ€™s kind of like their being….their being completely exploited and taken advantage of.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah, thatâ€™s important….is um…and again it goes back to why weâ€™re seeing the entire global economic system challenge, or the way it operates, in that, again, from world war two debts that World Bank set up, uh, Africa will have to….they canâ€™t charge as much or canâ€™t make as much profit off. An example in the film was tea, but you have diamonds, you have gold, you have oil, you have everything. Um, because they need to pay high tariffs to pay off that debt and so, theyâ€™re being forced to grow cash crops in order just to have any input of money. That of course uses all of their fresh water for these crops. And they, and the government there is also corrupt so they….their not even….they donâ€™t even have money to have pipes to go to their house. And yet they have a lot of water in Kenya for instance. And so, they are being forced to use water to grow roses, I used as an example, to, to go to Europe. Europe, europe doesnâ€™t have enough clean water to grow roses which people there donâ€™t realize. And so, they are getting it all from Lake Naivasha in Kenya. And um, and itâ€™s such a huge industry there, there was another filmmaker brought up in the film Joan Root who was killed trying to bring this to light. And, and, um….
Sean Daily: Regarding the Lake Naivasha issue, that was her, that was her cause.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. Yeah. It was her cause for many reasons also because of the hippopotamus there dying, everything is dying as you drain that lake. But you know, that, that, that, someoneâ€™s been killed over a rose exportation is just crazy. And thatâ€™s where we need to look at virtual water which is brought up in the film. And what this is, is that, itâ€™s not just fresh water itself, itâ€™s what fresh water is used to make. Because you know, you need to make food from water, and then you export that food, thatâ€™s, you are really exporting the water that that took to make. And we need to get that into our heads too is that itâ€™s what water is used for in industry and in agriculture and the exporting of that as well.
Sean Daily: Now there have been some happy stories. Hear of successfully taking on the multinational corporations. And to varying degrees of success. But there was one that sort of went well but then didnâ€™t go well. And that was the one around the Great Lakes. Again, this also affects here in the United States. This isnâ€™t all happening in….for people listening in….in remote places like Africa. Um, there was, there was a situation, uh, that happened, uh, around Nestle, I believe coming in, and being given water rights for pumping water out of the Great Lakes. And, uh, there was allegedly some, I think uh, politicians taking bribes for that to happen and then there was a gentleman, he had spoken up against it, and his mother was also featured in the film, uh….
Sam Bozzo: Yes. Terry Swier of um, Michigan um, conservation of water. They um, theyâ€™re the ones that fought Nestle and her son….well, let me set up something real quick about the great lakes.
Sean Daily: Sure. Um hmm.
Sam Bozzo: Because yeah it is very important to understand that this isnâ€™t just in the third world. And thereâ€™s been some people that say itâ€™s almost easier to fight in the third world than here. Because in the third world youâ€™ll get revolutions…youâ€™ll get…people will take physical action because they have to.
Sean Daily: Like in Bolivia where they take to the streets and….
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. They….because they have to. So in a sense, the fights, at least it gets over with and itâ€™s up front. With here, we have a legal system so itâ€™s fought in courts and itâ€™s fought….you know the corporations have so much power and so much money here that it…in some ways itâ€™s harder. So, the Great Lakes have so much fresh water and itâ€™s jointly….you know, Canada and the U.S. are both on that border, so, thereâ€™s a lot of contention between….Canada is worried about in the future, America taking all of its water, or starting to pump it all down because we canâ€™t manage our own and we are running out of our own. Um. The Great Lakes being a major source of that, becomes a hot spot. And youâ€™ll see, youâ€™ll see….weâ€™ve set up military bases around there. A military base that, that, Canada didnâ€™t like us doing. A lot of the mayors didnâ€™t like that happening. But, it is a hot spot area and the companies know that. So when you are dealing with the bottle water company like Nestle, the technology has gotten to the point where uh, you know, a plant that is set up now, can pump so much water that it will drain an entire areasâ€™ water. Now you know in the beginning of the bottled water industry that wasnâ€™t the case. The technology wasnâ€™t there that it could really hurt anything. It was more of….and thatâ€™s why bottled water itself….I um, Iâ€™m hesitant to say, you know, I think we have to focus on really what is wrong with it. If someone is just pumping locally, selling locally to the local area, then itâ€™s really just a consumer issue of being charged a thousand times more than itâ€™s worth. Itâ€™s a, itâ€™s a scam issue.
Sean Daily: Right.
Sam Bozzo: But, when you get these huge companies that can pump enough to drain a whole area, thatâ€™s becoming a bigger issue, and thatâ€™s what happened in uh….first they tried to set up in Wisconsin, Nestle did. And it was a…it was a retired….a group of retired people, um, you know, deer hunters, republicans, which I love, there just these old people and they, and they fought them out. They actually somehow raised enough of an issue, that the governor, who initially welcomed them because it brings a lot of money, was kind of forced to kick them out. And that was…that was the only success story we have in America so far. But, they ran….you know they went immediately to Michigan, learned from their mistakes there…
Sean Daily: They being the company.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. Nestle moved from Wisconsin where it got kicked out right into Michigan, Set up right away. Didnâ€™t wait for permission. Started pumping. They realized itâ€™s easier…cause it was easier….you know…itâ€™s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.
Sean Daily: Right.
Sam Bozzo: And they just set up base right away. And people like Terry Swiers, they saw the water tables dropping, started a group to fight against this, but they are just regular people. So, they had garage sales, they have Texas holdâ€™em tournaments. They raised a million dollars and uh, defied Nestle, this giant corporation. Now in that fight, what youâ€™ve mentioned with Terry Swierâ€™s son, is Nestle started throwing slap suits at some of the people, anyone who spoke against them. Uh, you know, and quite….they say itâ€™s a coincidence, but itâ€™s not. Quite….you know the son of person who is leading this group against them, throwing slap suits at them to try to scar them to stop uh, to stop fighting them. But they did end of winning in court. Which was amazing. Uh, they won the case, they said you are going to stop pumping now. They were very excited. But within three days, that was overturned. Or the injunction was overturned. And they, they could pump but they were limited to two hundred and fifty thousand gallons a minute or something which would still drain the area. But the fact that….thatâ€™s why itâ€™s somewhat harder in the U.S. some people say because it took â€˜em a million dollars in a year to get their day in court. They win. And within three days, the companyâ€™s up and running again. And you donâ€™t see this in the news or anything. So, how do you fight in that system? Uh, it becomes an issue we are going to be dealing with more and more.
Sean Daily: Yeah, itâ€™s a slap for people who are not familiar….itâ€™s actually an acronym….I never knew this, itâ€™s a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. So, so, these people in a public hearing would be asked, what do you think of this, what do you think of this, and theyâ€™d say I hate it, itâ€™s no good, you are taking all our water and then they would throw this slap suit at â€˜em and itâ€™s really there…. the fact that companies are allowed to this is ridiculous. But itâ€™s really there to try to intimidate um, activist from speaking their mind. And it goes directly against our right to free speech if you think about it. And also, um, they donâ€™t expect to win but they can tie these people up in court forever. Uh, and in all these cases they never went through with the slap suit. It was directly an intimidation tactic as the film pointed out. They just let it go. And didnâ€™t….and eventually….it just went away. But the fact that they can put that kind of pressure on people to speak their mind, especially when itâ€™s over their water, uh is something we have to look at as well. And it comes about because the executive producer of this film, Mark Achbar, he made one of my favorite documentaries The Corporation. And he….and uh, in that film it really talks about how corporations in our country for whatever reason have the right of a citizen. So that is why they can just buy a plot of land, and pump whatever is under there. Even though they have a factory that is pumping way more than any individual ever could.
Sean Daily: Right.
Sam Bozzo: And so thatâ€™s why all these prob….the, the, the, all the problems need to be solved through legislative is what Iâ€™ve come to realize.
Sean Daily: But the….
Sam Bozzo: It is really legislative mass, legislative changes, the only way to solve something this big. And it….but it could happen easily. Thatâ€™s the good news. Is with legislation, it could be solved rather quickly. But itâ€™s getting….
Sean Daily: Right. But the problem is that….and a lot of people…would assert not to sound like paranoid conspiracy theorist. But the problem is that there are lobbies involved here. These are major multi national corporations. Which have lobbies and political power. And so they have a profit motive. And so we are expecting the legislation to come from politicians who are being lobbied uh by these….people donâ€™t realize the size of the lobbies….they think oh what, a water company? What? Whoâ€™s that? I….you know, they are used to other types of companies being large. Um, military industrial complex type corporations but, you know, these companies….these companies are huge they are just a little bit more behind the scenes.
Sam Bozzo: Yeah. And thatâ€™s why uh, you know, they bribe the third world countries directly, but yeah thereâ€™s lobbies….we call our bribery lobbying. And so, we can, you know, they are….they are um….they have influence there. Again what I….thatâ€™s what fascinates me about water is I think, once they put water into the system I think we are going to see the system really be challenged. Because where people have kind of sat back for it with special interest group dealing with oil or dealing with anything that we donâ€™t need. When it comes to water, what we have seen through these success stories is people just wonâ€™t take it because they canâ€™t. Once you start taking their water or trying to sell their water back to them they wonâ€™t take it. We will stand up because you have to, and thatâ€™s where I see the real big chance for change here. Um, where we have allowed lobbying to happen before, we wonâ€™t allow it here when it comes down to it. But the question is how bad does it have to get before we ah….before it gets there. And thatâ€™s really the big issue.
Sean Daily: Well that concludes part one of my two part interview with American director and independent filmmaker Sam Bozzo of Blue Gold: World Water Wars. While you are waiting for part two which will be on our site in a few days, you can check out the filmâ€™s website at bluegold-worldwaterwars.com. The film is now in general release for the DVD in North America. Thanks everyone, and weâ€™ll see you next time on GreenTalk Radio.