Baltimore recently voted on the issue of water privatization, an issue that will increasingly come to the fore in policy debates as the planet continues getting hotter and human population continues to increase.
Baltimore voted a resounding NAY on privatizing the city’s water, as they should have.
Water is a human right, no matter what the CEO of Nestle says.
And if we Americans don’t take our water rights more seriously, the Nestles, Cokes and Pepsis of the world will completely take over this country’s water supply, the way they have in so many corrupt, developing nations.
On November 6, Baltimore became the first major city in the United States whose residents voted to ban water privatization. Nearly 77 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of Question E, which declared the “inalienability” of the water and sewer systems and exempted them from any city charter provisions related to franchising or operational rights.
This vote resulted from an ongoing struggle waged by Baltimore community activists, unions and civic leaders demanding affordable access to water for low-income residents. That struggle emerged in response to concern the city could sell off the community’s water infrastructure to for-profit investors.
The vote is also part of an emerging worldwide movement to fight back against privatization and to municipalize or re-municipalize (put under public control) local enterprises and services. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of privately owned water systems in the United States fell by 7 percent.
As in Baltimore, the mere threat of water privatization now sparks community resistance around the world. A 2017 study by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute identified 835 municipalizations and re-municipalizations involving some 1,600 cities in 45 countries. These developments were most prevalent in the energy and water sectors, but have also occurred in transportation, education, housing and healthcare. “These (re)municipalizations generally succeeded in bringing down costs and tariffs, improving conditions for workers and boosting service quality, while ensuring greater transparency and accountability,” the report found.
In Germany, dozens of new municipal-level publicly owned electric utilities have been established since 2007 and hundreds of service concessions have been acquired by public entities from private operators, reversing the privatization wave that swept the sector in the 1990s. This process of rekommunalisierung (‘re-communalization’) is part of a larger effort called energiewende (“energy transition”) to replace the country’s use of coal and nuclear with renewable sources.