Translation into English of comments written in Spanish by
Francesc La Roca
Professor, University of Valencia
Member of Fundación Nueva Cultura del Agua
“Water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.” (Water Framework Directive)
CETA’s statement “water in its natural state (…) is not a good or a product” distorts the first recital of the Water Framework Directive, introducing a restrictive element that is not acceptable from a scientific point of view. It ignores the unitary nature of the water cycle and also ignores water limits in the planet, as well as the multifunctional nature of water in ecosystems.
When water is extracted from aquatic ecosystems, from groundwater or direct rain catchment for human purpose, water cycle is altered but it doesn’t lose its natural state - despite its artificial management - as sooner or later it will come back to any phase of the water cycle. After providing some services to society, water will reintegrate to the cycle probably in a worse status, and without being able to provide certain ecosystem functions, which means the loss of some ecosystem services. An adequate water management cannot ignore these essential water aspects, that are prior to the human use and therefore should put limits on water commodification - even if it is partial or temporary.
The characteristics of global water circulation - limited, multifunctional and territorial - should be taken into account when water flows in a natural way in ecosystems and also when it is abstracted to move it to the social subsystem flow. Any institution that doesn’t take into account the biophysical aspects of water - and the importance of them - is not fit for water management, including the allocation of resources to different uses. This is the reason why there are concession regimes or water permits that are allocated, according to European legislation, with the limitation of not compromising good health of ecosystems. That limits the quantity of water extracted, the transport (e.g. by bulk water transfers) and the use and final destiny of water.
What CETA does, dividing water in its natural state from the other, quite likely water as a commodity that would fall under CETA provisions, is unacceptable. It perverts the hierarchic relationship that links natural systems with the economic subsystem, and that should prioritize protection and conservation criteria in water management before the logic of private market profits. Indeed, the investment protection in the trade agreement subdues public institutions, limiting its capacity to manage water giving priority to the good ecologic status and sustainable use targets of the EU.
Water should be out of the agreement in all its forms.
Valencia, 15th of December 2016