Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water

Source: Emanuele Lobina, Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) and Corporate Accountability International, November 2014

From the blog post:
By now, you’ve probably heard: our public water systems are under threat. As federal funding for public water infrastructure dries up, global water corporations like Suez and Veolia are rushing to offer themselves as “solutions” to fill the void. But their false promises gloss over the dismal track record of private water corporations: rate hikes, environmental degradation, labor abuses, and political interference.

But the report we just released with Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) — “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water”– finds that U.S. cities are increasingly rejecting water privatization and taking back public control of their public water. The report draws from interviews with dozens of public officials, data about water remunicipalizations from more than 100 cities globally, and Freedom of Information Act Requests. Its author, Emanuele Lobina, is a Principal Lecturer in the University of Greenwich, UK, Business School and a leading analyst with PSIRU focused on the impact of privatization and liberalization on public services, especially water.

The report details how the private water industry relies on political interference — including lobbying, non-transparent dealings, political contributions, and revolving doors — and misleading PR to expand its market in the U.S.
And it cites specific examples of the failure of private water deals and the growing grassroots movement to take public systems back (i.e. remunicipalize). Here’s a sneak peek at some of the details the report reveals:
• Since 2003, more than 30 U.S. municipalities, including major cities like Atlanta and Indianapolis, have taken back control of their water systems from privateers like Suez (known as United Water in the U.S.) and Veolia.
• In cities like St. Louis, MO, and Akron, OH, a groundswell of public opposition based on the private water industry’s track record of abuse blocked proposed contracts.
• Water remunicipalization in the U.S. is part of a global trend, with more than 100 cases globally in the last two decades.
• In many cases, cities have saved millions of dollars after remunicipalizing; Paris, for instance, saved $46 million in the first year after terminating its contract with Veolia.