Documentary explores struggle over privatization of water in El Salvador


Jamie Gonzaga

Jason Wallach discusses his time in El Salvador while making his documentary about water use called, “Good to the Last Drop.” Photo Credit: Jamierose Gonzaga/Daily Sundial


Activist and documentary filmmaker, Jason Wallch, came to campus to screen his documentary which explores the problems of privatization of water, and the fight over water decentralization in El Salvador.

His film, ‘Until the Last Drop,’ is the product of Wallch living in El Salvador from 2005 to 2007. He began working with many of the water works and unions who makes sure clean water gets into the homes of citizens.

“These people are working 60-70 hours a week and will show you their paycheck,”  Wallch said. “They make $155 a month, do a lot and suffer on their knees with human waste but they keep doing it. I was amazed by these guys’ dedication to make sure the country had water.”

The battle to keep decentralization was getting worse, and Wallch was compelled to investigate Central America’s conflict over water because only 60% of citizens have access to water.

Many families are being charged for water when many struggle with a low income and don’t have enough to pay for water.

The government and mayor began to install meters to charge people for this necessity even when they dig their own wells.

Environmentalists, coalitions and unions began to fight for privatization. The citizens of San Pedro asked the mayor and certified board, that the water systems need to go back into public control. The people blockaded their area and in result the board shut down water for 15 days.

Human organizations spoke to the federal government and mayor of El Salvador because the government did not build the wells, the people did, which makes them the legitimate owners.

“The movement and fight have been so bad that the government started shooting people with tear gas,” Wallch said. “The people of El Salvador who defend water are fighting for their survival.”

Today, water supply distribution is continuous but laws haven’t been placed, slowing down privatization.