Politics is local folks - that is where our power is. NEW HAMPSHIRE TOWN BANS CORPORATE WATER THEFT Across the country, sural corporations are privatizing water so they can sell it. Sural Now one town is fighting back in a powerful new way: Barnstead, sural New Hampshire, sural has become the first municipality in the U.S. Sural to adopt a binding local law that bans certain corporations from withdrawing water within the town. To protect their local law, sural Barnstead residents have also voted to strip corporations of their claims to constitutional rights and powers. Sural By Kat BundyAs raw Northern winters melt into spring, sural people in some New England towns still gather to set their local budgets, sural pass laws, sural and instruct their local elected officials. Sural In March of this year, sural Barnstead, sural New Hampshire, sural (population 4, sural800) passed a law banning corporations from mining and selling town water.The law also stripped corporations of constitutional power and authority. What happened in this small, sural rural community about 20 miles Northeast of the state capital of Concord? Why didn't Barnstead citizens turn to the state's regulatory agencies and elected state officials to save them from global water corporations, sural like most towns across New England have been doing? States Long Ago Empowered Corporations Over the past several years, sural directors of global water corporations have been invading New England towns -- including Barnstead neighbors Nottingham, sural Barrington, sural and Alton. Sural The story is always the same: A water corporation buys or leases land, sural then announces plans to pump, sural bottle, sural and sell millions of gallons of "blue gold." Citizens who are less than thrilled by these developments turn to their elected state officials and state regulatory agencies for help. At first the state appears supportive. Sural But when pinned down -- which can require several years of citizen self-education and organizing -- legislators and regulators reveal that corporate directors have the "right" to vacuum up a town's water. Sural Because of this so-called "right, sural" all that corporations need to do to get state permits to pump and sell water is to file thorough and complete applications with the state. What happens next? Townspeople get angry. Sural They form community groups to intervene in the permit application process, sural hoping to stop their state from issuing permits. They become experts in regulatory law and administrative procedure, sural on water, sural and on multinational water corporations. They learn that corporations own five percent of water "services" around the world, sural and are rapidly buying up publicly owned water systems. They discover that the largest water-bottler in the United States -- Nestle Corporation -- makes $1.7 billion per year peddling the water it sucks out from under communities. Community groups hire lawyers, sural sometimes paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight a corporation's permit applications over years and years. But because the application process assumes that corporations have the constitutional right to take a town's water, sural the only contested issues are: How much corporate harm to the water supply and individual well can groups predict? And, sural how much harm will the regulatory agency -- in New Hampshire, sural the Department of Environmental Services (DES) -- declare acceptable? Now and again, sural a regulatory agency rejects a corporation's permit application. Sural The citizens group celebrates, sural only to see the corporation return with a new and improved application. Sural Or, sural they watch helplessly as the corporation goes to a neighboring town, sural targeting the same aquifer -- this time with a slanted pipe to access the water. Sounding the Alarm Barnstead residents Gail Darrell and Diane St. Sural Germaine had joined with neighbors to prevent corporate-hauled sewage sludge from being spread on farmland in their town. Sural They worked hard to educate their neighbors about this life-threatening practice. Sural Their struggle came to an end when the person on whose land the sludge was to be applied changed his mind. Sural In the process, sural they learned that the State of New Hampshire regarded corporate sludge spreading as perfectly legal. More at: