YOUR Drinking Water is Endangered
Chances are, your water supply is handled by a municipal or county utility. If so, try to keep it that way, for your sake.
Across America, this is slowly changing. This is NOT good.
Right now, 15% of Americans have their water supply owned and controlled by a private company (usually a multinational corporation with no stake in the local community). Now 15% may seem small, but this percentage has tripled in the past few years.
In a lot of Third World countries, the water supply has been privatized by global corporations. In almost every case, prices go through the roof, quality and service go down, and nobody seems to be accountable or available if there’s a problem.
In the most famous/infamous case, Bechtel purchased the water supply in Bolivia a few years ago. Prices doubled (Bolivia is South America’s poorest country) and eventually there were massive protests and riots threatening the entire country. Out of desperation, the Bolivian government cancelled their contract with Bechtel.
And now this cancer is creeping into America.
I first heard of this phenomenon about fifteen years ago. The town of Bodega Bay, CA “sold” its water supply to a private owner in Naples, FL. Suddenly everyone’s water bills tripled and quadrupled, service was “spotty” (to put it kindly) and nobody ever seemed to be available to help with problems.
At the time, this seemed like such a bizarre situation; I had no idea this would become a trend.
Currently the most high-profile battle is taking place in Illinois. More than a million Illinois residents have their water supply owned and operated by RWE, a German conglomerate. One woman, complaining about her $800 water bill, said “Everything we hear is double-talk. Should we call Germany to get the answers we need?”
Last month the mayor of Urbana, IL did exactly that. She flew to Germany to chastise executives and shareholders of RWE. She said “I fired a diplomatic shot across the bow. I was there to show the flag and to let them know that Americans are offended by foreign intervention and corporate bullying. After all, it’s our water, not theirs.”
Across the country, local governments have spent millions of dollars in legal battles and referendums, trying to reclaim their water supply from RWE. Since RWE has a multi-million dollar arsenal of lawyers and PR hacks, they usually win.
RWE of course puts its own spin on things: “government piracy” versus “free enterprise.” A company attorney has described these battles as “Zee communities lose and zee company loses.”
In Monterey, CA and Chattanooga, TN, among other places, RWE has spent millions of dollars to defeat local referendums for taking back their water supply.
Illinois has now passed a state law making it easier for communities to take back their water supplies from corporate owners. The legislation hasn’t yet been signed by the governor.
Like cancer, this corporate takeover of our water (and God knows what’ll be next) is easier to prevent than to cure. If your water supply is still owned by a local government, do whatever you can to keep it that way. Stay on top of things and do what you have to do to keep your drinking water out of the hands of robber barons.
cross-posted at Bring It On!