For those of us who care about our country and its future, by far the most pressing current issue is the implementation of the Water Act from 2006, due to take effect on 1 July — in just over two weeks.
The Act, the implementation of which has been postponed twice, would allow the owners of any land in Iceland to have full control of all the water within that land’s boundaries, including groundwater, drinking water, geothermal water, power-generating water, salmon fishing rivers, and so on.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that in the past decade or so, Icelandic land has increasingly been snapped up by various tycoons and other wealthy individuals, who are clearly after the extra resources that come with the land, not least the water. A report on Channel 2 from last year, which Lára Hanna publishes on her website, reveals that the largest landowner in Iceland is now a single private enterprise owned by numerous wealthy individuals and, as it happens, Landsbanki. They own 72 pieces of land throughout the country, with related resources.
The 2006 laws are a travesty, and extremely dangerous for the Icelandic public. Predictably those who favour privatization [*cough* IP and Progressives *cough*] argue that the resources inherent in the land would be better taken care of by private individuals [after all, everything else smacks of communism]. The two coalition parties, however, along with The Movement, want the Act abolished and a new one drawn up, as does parliament’s Industry Committee, which has sent forth a resolution that the Act be abolished immediately to send a clear message that its inherent premise will not be supported.
The Independence and Progressive Parties, however, have threatened to employ their best stalling tactics to ensure that the Act is not abolished before the summer recess, which is set to be any day now [parliament is actually in overtime and should have recessed for the summer a few days ago]. So it looks like the best we can hope for is for the implementation of the Act to be postponed once again, and for it to be abolished when parliament reconvenes.
Meanwhile, a Facebook event has been set up to urge everyone to send a letter to MPs. In English translation:
Water is our most precious resource. Water is invaluable. No one owns water, yet it is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve it. If we contaminate the water, we will see the end of civilization as we know it.
History reveals that every time someone has tried to take possession of water, this gift of life to mankind and all living things, it has ended in terror, chaos and bloodshed. Water is our collective property in the sense that we must all take responsibility for it.
Do not privatize the water. Stop the new Water Act. You are the people’s representatives. Take a stand on behalf of the people you are working for. It will be the most grave mistake ever made if this Act is implemented.
We can only hope and pray that common sense will prevail, and that Icelanders have learned something about the dangers of privatization.