The question that director Neil Docherty asks on behalf of some of the poorest people around the world is "How can companies buy, sell and trade water, our most basic need?" Dead in the Water boils the answer down to greed, bullying, and a lot of smoke and mirrors.
I'll start by saying that I watched this during a week-long union education school, but it also aired as part of the CBC documentary series The Fifth Estate. Dead in the Water traces much of the global water trouble back to the privatization of public utilities spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan in the 1980s. In most cases, water supply and sanitation are tied together in privatization deals but since sanitation provides little or no profit, it is often of little concern to private companies.
Dead in the Water asks a lot of questions and while it does provide a lot of numbers, they don't always answer the questions. On the other hand, the numbers are hard to ignore: 25 per cent of the world's population don't have access to fresh water and every 8 seconds, a child dies from a water-borne illness.
At the end of the film, it's pretty clear that the fight for public water is not over and it's not going to be easy for either side.
Buy Dead in the Water through the NFB (National Film Board)