A Thirst for Growth

Your water supply may be controlled by a French company--even if you live in China

Bruno Ferrandez / AFP / Getty

A woman fills a carafe with water.

Ah, the hidden glories of Paris. On the Oise River northwest of the city, the SEDIF water-purification plant uses a nanofiltration system that forces water through 84 acres of membranes housed in a giant matrix of 190 metal tubes. South of the capital in Valenton, one can breathe the swampy odors of a massive wastewater plant that treats 159 million gal. of sewage every day and converts the solid waste into 82,000 tons of combustible pellets--enough to provide 80% of the sewage plant's annual energy needs. And there's that old favorite, les égouts de Paris, the city's sewer and water system...

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