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DOJ’s Action Against United Water Shows Dangers of Private Water Operation
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - December 10 - “We applaud the Department of Justice (DOJ) for pursuing criminal charges against United Water and two of its employees for allegedly tampering with E. coli monitoring at its Gary, Ind. wastewater facility, which reduced the amount of treatment chemicals used. The DOJ believes this is a violation of the Clean Water Act.
“This indictment shows why our water services should be publicly owned. Private water operators are often based hundreds of miles away from the municipalities they serve. Their first priority is shareholders, not communities. Private operators are known for trimming costs in operation, as well as cutting jobs and raising rates in communities they enter.
“Ravaged by the recent economic recession, more municipalities are considering selling or leasing their water systems to help balance their budgets. As of October 2010, at least 39 communities in the U.S. were considering selling or leasing their water systems to private operators—more than five times the number of completed privatization deals in a typical year over the last two decades.
“In order to allow cities to retain control over their water systems, the funding gap for water infrastructure—now $22 billion a year—needs to be reversed. Congress should prioritize dedicated funding to repair our aging systems so that public leaders aren’t tempted to turn over water operations to private companies.”