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Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch: (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org
Trenton Residents Drown Risky Water Deal
Local Vote Latest Wave in National Trend Against Private Control Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
WASHINGTON - June 16 - "Yesterday, residents of Trenton, New Jersey voted by a 4 to 1 margin to reject a measure to sell a portion of the city's public water utility to the private water provider American Water. A coalition of community organizations, labor unions, and environmental and consumer groups coalesced to make this victory possible, despite having spent a mere fraction of the more than $850,000 that American Water sank into the campaign.
"A historic victory for consumers in New Jersey and elsewhere, the overwhelming denial of the sale prevented what would have been one of the largest water utility privatizations in U.S. history. Combined with last week's vote in Novato, Calif., where residents rejected the privatization of their city's wastewater resources by the private operator Veolia, yesterday's development in Trenton marks the escalation of a national trend against the private control of water systems.
"Both of these votes are further proof that U.S. consumers want these vital resources owned and managed by the public.
"Yesterday's vote marked the culmination of a long, harrowing battle that also involved the intervention of the New Jersey Supreme Court to uphold the public's right to vote in this decision.
"The will of the people finally prevailed, further illustrating that a resource as vital as water should not be made vulnerable to the highest bidder. It should also serve as a warning to Governor Christie that New Jersians do not look favorably upon attempts to gamble public resources for balanced budgets."