Republicans Vote to Privatize Wisconsin Water

Source: Senator Jennifer Shilling, Urban Milwaukee, April 5, 2017
 
Access to clean drinking water has become a major concern across Wisconsin. Pollution, contamination and over-pumping of groundwater have depleted water supplies and created major health and economic concerns. Rather than promoting a sustainable management plan, Republican politicians are rushing to pass Senate Bill 76 which will privatize water rights, eliminate oversight and prohibit the DNR from reviewing the cumulative impact of high capacity wells on local communities. … Republican in the State Senate passed Senate Bill 76 despite strong opposition from residents, health advocates and conservationists. Wisconsin’s water challenges have intensified in recent years as over-pumping has become more common and lax pollution enforcement from the Walker administration and Attorney General’s office has resulted in dangerous water contamination. …

Related:

Water privatization bill probably can’t be revived, GOP leader says
Source: Steven Verburg, The Journal Times, February 18, 2016

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Wednesday that Republicans who control the Senate weren’t satisfied with the proposal. “Senator Fitzgerald has said that while he believes the proposal has merit, AB 554 is likely dead this session after efforts to craft an amendment which addressed our members’ concerns were not successful,” spokeswoman Myranda Tanck said. The GOP-controlled Assembly passed the bill Jan. 12 and a Senate committee approved it on a 3-2 party-line vote Jan. 28. Late Monday, the proposal was added to the Tuesday agenda for the full Senate, but during the floor session it was removed without public discussion or announcement

Wisconsin Senate scraps water privatization vote
Source: The Wisconsin Gazette, February 17, 2016

Despite a push from private water companies, Senate Republicans failed to reach a consensus on a bill that would have made it easier to privatize water systems in the state. The measure was pulled and no floor vote took place earlier this week. The measure, which had passed in the Assembly, was opposed by union members, environmentalists, municipal water and sewer operators, local cities and citizens from across the state.


Despite loss of key support, Senate plans vote Tuesday to ease privatization of water systems
Source: Steven Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal, February 16, 2016

The state Senate scheduled a vote for Tuesday on a bill to ease the sale of public water systems into private hands, just days after the League of Wisconsin Municipalities reversed course and pulled its support for the legislation. … Lars Fiorio, a spokesman for the bill’s lone Senate sponsor, Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, said he wasn’t aware of any Wisconsin water utilities that wanted to sell, but the legislation still had value by providing an alternative. … After Aqua America contacted the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the organization registered in favor of the bill, because the league usually supports laws that put policymaking in the control of elected officials as opposed to public referendums. But on Friday, in a rare move, the league’s board met and voted 13-0 to withdraw support. …

Big gulp: GOP advances water privatization
Source: Lisa Neff, Wisconsin Gazette, February 11, 2016

Rather, Aqua America is the second-largest publicly traded water utility company in the United States, and some day the company — or Veolia or Suez — could take control of municipal water systems in Wisconsin.  Republican lawmakers fast-tracked AB 554/SB 432, legislation that would diminish public influence and make it easier to privatize local water supplies. Environmentalists in the state call the measure the “Water Privatization Bill.” The Assembly approved AB 554 on Jan. 12. A Senate floor vote had not been held as WiG went to press on Feb. 10. …

Privatizing Wisconsin’s Drinking Water
Source: Tim Morrisey, Public News Service, February 8, 2016

Amber Meyer Smith, director of legislative relations with the state’s largest environmental group, Clean Wisconsin, says the legislation was apparently written to benefit one company in particular, a Pennsylvania firm called Aqua America. Meyer Smith says the company has been buying up water systems all over the nation, and its record is questionable at best. … Republican sponsors of the bill under consideration say a private company might be able to do system upgrades that communities couldn’t afford. But others say it would take away the key consideration of public accountability in managing water supplies. Clean Wisconsin says municipally owned water systems have locally elected control, and government has a level of accountability to citizens if there are problems, that private companies do not have. … A new piece of legislation that would prohibit privatization of Wisconsin’s water and sewer utilities has just been introduced by Democrats to counter the bill now moving forward. There are 582 local water utilities in Wisconsin, and none of them requested a law to allow a sale of the system to a private company.

Bill to privatize public water has people fighting back
Source: Raquel Lamal, NBC26, February 3, 2016

Wisconsinites are fighting back as a private Pennsylvania company launches a push to buy public water systems in Wisconsin.  Opponents say your water bills could skyrocket and your health could be at risk but the company says their plans mean improving the water we drink. … Right now water is a public resource and they don’t make a profit.  This bill being pushed by Aqua America out of Pennsylvania would change that.    Aqua America currently operates water for 8 states according to their website.

Concerns raised about state senate water utility privatization bill
Source: William Miston, February 3, 2016

A bill working through the Wisconsin Legislature would make it easier for private companies to buy public water systems. But while some believe it could be a better option for some municipalities, others say a community water service is best kept in the hands of local governments. … Quirk is talking about is AB 554 – which has already passed – and its Senate companion SB 432. They would ease restrictions on private companies, looking to buy municipal water systems, specifically when it comes to putting a sale up to a voter referendum. …

Bill Could Open Door to Privatization of Water Utilities in Wisconsin
Source: Susan Bence, WUWM, January 29, 2016

On Thursday, GOP members of a state Senate committee advanced an amended bill to the full Senate that could ease the process of private companies buying municipal water utilities. The Republican-controlled Assembly has already said yes. … The original bill would have given interested parties 30 days to place the water privatization question on the ballot. The amended version now winding through the Senate gives 60 days, and lowers the number signatures required for a referendum, from 25 percent of those who voted in last gubernatorial election to 10 percent. Under this bill, voters would have to initiate a referendum first, before the proposed sale would be scrutinized by the PSC.