Information on the use of water - Christian Life Community – USA

Some references on water from Fr. Ben Urmston, SJ
In the Hebrew Scriptures, ““living water”” meant water that is flowing free and pure; it is
contrasted with water from wells or cisterns, which tended to be stagnant and undesirable.
In the Christian Scriptures, Jesus appropriated the term living water to refer to
himself as the source of genuine spiritual life. He applied this symbol to himself
because he knew that people depend on water for their survival as individuals and as
communities; that water slakes thirst and quenches fields and livestock as well as wild
creatures. Water, used in religious ceremonies, gives life to our spirits too. It is the element
used to symbolize spiritual cleansing and a sign of God’’s grace conferred upon us.
Isaiah 44.3, 55.1: ““All you who are thirsty, come to the water! Your who have no
money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink
wine and milk!”” Ezekiel 47. 1-12 saw water flowing from beneath the temple and
becoming a river along whose banks trees grew abundantly. He added that ““wherever the
river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be
abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh,”” Ezekiel’’s vision
is recalled later by the seer of Revelation 1,2.
Jesus was baptized by John in the flowing waters of the Jordan River (Mk. 1.9) At the
temple Jesus exclaimed: ““Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes
in me, as Scripture says, ‘‘rivers of living water will flow from within him.’’ (Jan 7. 37-38)
Water flowing from Jesus’’ side at his crucifixion is richly symbolic: by his death he offers
eternal life to all (Jn.19.31-37.) Jesus told his followers to make disciples of all nations,
“baptizing them” with water.
(Mt. 28.18-20. The living water offered by Jesus for our spirit and the living water in God’’s
creation for our body are both life-giving waters––one natural, the other supernatural.
(From twelve Catholic bishops of the US Pacific Northwest and southeastern British
Columbia, Canada, Origins, Vol. 30, p. 613, Mar. 8, 2001.)
Pontifical Justice and Peace Council: Water, An Essential Element for Life Third World Water
Forum Kyoto, March 16-23, 2003. ““Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects
the well-being of over one billion persons, and more than twice that number have
no adequate sanitation. This all too often is the cause of disease, unnecessary suffering,
conflicts, poverty and even death. Water plays a central and critical role in all aspects of
life—in the national environment, in our economies, in food security, in production, in
politics. . .The human person can survive only a few days without clean, safe drinking
water. . . Water must meet the needs of the present population and those of future
generations of all societies. Water policy to be sustainable, must promote the good of
every person and of the whole person. . . Respect for life and the dignity of the human
person must be the ultimate guiding norm for all development policy. . . Powerful
international interests, public and private, must adapt their agendas to serve human needs
rather than dominate them.. . The earth and all that it contains are for the use of every
human being and all peoples. This principle of the universal destination of the goods
of creation confirms that people and countries, including future generations, have
the right to fundamental access to those goods which are necessary for their
development. Water is such a common good of humankind. . The few with the
means to control cannot destroy or exhaust this resource, which is destined for
the use of all.
Water management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners
and policy-makers at all levels. . . Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination
to commit oneself to the common good, to the good of all and of each individual. It
presupposes the effort for a more just social order and requires a preferential attention to
the situation of the poor.. Although the water issue is global in scope, it is at the local level
where decisive action can best be taken. The engagement of communities at the grass-roots
level is key to the success of water programs.
Agriculture cannot be sustained without sufficient water. The dominant use of
water around the world will continue to be water for food security.
Existing international water law may be unable to handle competition for limited sources of
water. . Conflicts focus on shared river basins and transboundary waters.
The use of water for industry and energy are of great importance.
'Hydroelectric power is an important source of clean energy. It provides approximately 20%
of total electricity production worldwide.
Water by its very nature cannot be treated as a mere commodity among other commodities.
Catholic social thought has always stressed that the defense and preservation of certain
common goods such as the natural and human environments cannot be
safeguarded simply by market forces, since they tough on fundamental human
needs which escape market logic. Centesimus Annus, 40. Water has traditionally been a
state responsibility and viewed as a public good. Being at the service of its citizens, the
state is the steward of the people’’s resources, which it most administer with a view to the
common good. . There should be an efficient and reliable water service which provides for
the poor and low-income families. Recycling principles create a new philosophy of
what has been regarded as waste.
A people-centered, pro-poor policy on water management must address the question of
water-related hazards such as floods, droughts, desertification, tropical storms erosion and
various kinds of pollution. Many so-called natural disaster are in fact man-made in
their roots, because of inadequate attention to the environment and the
consequences of human actions or indeed inaction. It is the poor who suffer most
when they are exposed to such dangers. But everyone’’s security is at risk.. . Postdisaster reconstruction is not a question of reconstructing the past, but of building
for a safer and more ecologically sustainable future.
Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of other human rights.
There is little that cannot be achieved technically. What is needed is political will and
effective governance. Rights to food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services, cannot be attained or guaranteed without also
guaranteeing access to clean water. Without water, life is threatened. The right to
water is an inalienable right.
Funds released through cancellation of debt can be used in improving water services. Water
nourishes us. Water is a source of beauty, wonder, relaxation, and refreshment. People
vacation near water to renew and regenerate themselves. Water has an aesthetic value.
Water is a sign of God’’s favor and goodness. Without water there is no life. We need to
respect the integrity of creation and an appreciation of the significance of water in
God’’s plan.
Christian Life Community: Bottled Water
Private ownership of water or privatization of water is a threat to our water security. One
person in six does not have access to clean drinking water. The UN predicts that
by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will not have access to sufficient
drinking water. Private corporations look at water as blue gold. Delegates from thirty-five
nations formulated principles concerning fresh water: "Earth's fresh water belongs to
the Earth and all species, and therefore must not be treated as a private
commodity to be bought, sold and traded for profit. The global fresh water supply
is a shared legacy, a public trust, a fundamental human right, and therefore a
collective responsibility."
Annual sales of bottled water are more than thirty-five billion dollars worldwide. Much
bottled water is appropriated by giant soft drink corporations. These transnational
corporations buy up farms, wilderness tracts, and whole water systems. Plastic water
bottles clog landfills. In a test of 1000 bottles, one third contained contamination, including
traces of arsenic and E. coli. One fourth of bottled water is taken from the tap. Bottled
water is subject to much less regulation than tap water.
What are we to do? If your tap water is questionable, consider using filters even though
energy and materials are still needed for filter production and distribution and used up filter
components usually end in landfills where they can release toxins collected from the water
back into the environment. Filters are a temporary solution and no substitute for proper
watershed conservation and management--i.e. keeping our natural water supply
See or
Taken from Harvest summer 2004 Christian Life Community Sylvia Picard Schmidt pp. 26 ff.