Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water

By Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman, with Michael Fox
Jossey-Bass/Wiley & Sons, 2007

THIRST investigates eight recent high-profile controversies over the corporate takeover of water in the U.S, and illuminates how citizens are fighting back in heartland communities like Stockton, CA, Lexington, KY, Holyoke, MA, and Mecosta County, MI. Political corruption, high stakes financial takeovers, and behind the scenes maneuvering by some of the richest corporations characterize a David and Goliath battle in which local citizens muster creative and often surprising organizing methods to preserve their right to local, public control of this precious resource.

The PBS documentary Thirst showed how communities around the world are resisting the privatization and commodification of water.  Now THIRST, the book, picks up where the documentary left off, revealing the emergence of controversial new water wars here in the United States.

THIRST exposes the corporate attempts to:

  • Take over municipal control of water in communities around the country
  • Buy up rights to groundwater in the US
  • Create and corner the market on bottled water

It also shows how people in affected communities are fighting back to keep water affordable, accessible, sustainable and public:

  • By creating new methods to challenge the corporate juggernaut in an age of globalization
  • By challenging tired clichés of Republican and Democratic political alignments

We are at the tipping point in the new, global water wars. The United States is ground zero. What happens in the next few years will determine the fate of water and our basic democratic rights. THIRST is a battlefield account of the conflict.


“A riveting and engaging account of one of the most important environmental issues of our time: Will corporations or citizens control our water?”
Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club

“A smart, gripping narrative of the way big money is cornering the market for life’s basic ingredient. It will shock you – and it should!”
Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute and author of The Global Class War

” As a Congressman from the Great Lakes region, I appreciate this timely and important work on a critical public policy question: Is water a natural resource to be protected by the public realm, or is it just another commodity?”
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Ohio

“Who really owns your water? It may not be who you think. Read this provocative and insightful book and find out about the politics and economics of growing attempts to privatize our most vital public resource – the stuff that comes out of your tap.”
Peter Gleick, President, Pacific Institute for Development, Environment and Security

“The fight for the right to water has hit the U.S. heartland and this passionate, information-packed book tells the story of ordinary Americans engaged in extraordinary struggles to save their water heritage for future generations. Every American should read it.”
Maude Barlow, Chair of Council of Canadians

“A terrific read. Startling and motivating. Thirst helps us see that the fight for the right to water is in fact a struggle for democracy itself. Read Thirst and dive into the 21st Century’s core challenge: Do we save ourselves by the market’s logic, or as citizens do we deepen democracy’s logic?”
– Frances Moore Lappe, author of Democracy’s Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life

About the Authors

Alan Snitow is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist. His films include “Thirst”, “Secrets of Silicon Valley”, and “Blacks and Jews”. Prior to founding Snitow-Kaufman Productions, he was a News Producer for Bay Area Fox affiliate KTVU-TV for 12 years. As News Director at the Bay Area Pacifica Radio station KPFA-FM, he won a Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Award for Best Local Newscast. He is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Deborah Kaufman is a film producer and director whose documentaries “Thirst”, “Secrets of Silicon Valley” and “Blacks and Jews” have been broadcast on PBS and throughout Europe and Asia. She founded and was, for 14 years, Director of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first and largest festival of its kind. A noted activist for human rights and social justice issues, Kaufman is an attorney and member of the California State Bar.

Michael Fox is a San Francisco journalist, film critic and lecturer. He has written for more than 50 regional and national publications, including San Francisco Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and He curates and hosts a weekly screening series at the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco, and teaches documentary film at San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning. A member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, Fox also has an MBA from Loyola University, Chicago.