Human rights advocates and union workers are celebrating as Baltimore is poised to become the first major American city to amend its charter to bar privatization of the public water system.Baltimore is leading the country in a historic vote to amend the City Charter to #BanWaterPrivatization once and for all. Thank you to @MayorPugh50 @prezjackyoung and all of the members of City Council for coming out today to support this important piece of legislation. pic.twitter.com/yryhtbXfDB— FWW Maryland (@FWWMaryland) August 6, 2018Baltimore\u0026#039;s City Council on Monday approved a charter amendment that deems the water supply and sewer systems \u0022inalienable,\u0022 and prohibits the sale or lease of the systems. The vote was nearly unanimous—one council member reportedly recused herself and another was absent.\u0022Access to clean and affordable water should be looked at as a basic human right,\u0022 asserted City Council President Bernard C. \u0022Jack\u0022 Young, who waived council rules to fast-track the vote. \u0022I have always been a proponent of retaining our city\u0026#039;s assets, which is why I am completely opposed to the privatization of Baltimore\u0026#039;s water system.\u0022The amendment must be signed by Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh—who has expressed her support for it—by Aug. 13 before residents get the final say through a ballot measure vote in November.The City’s water and sewer system is a priceless asset for the citizens of Baltimore and I am determined to do everything possible to protect this vital resource and ensure that it remains reliable, clean, and plentiful. pic.twitter.com/QuuHNFWooU— Mayor Catherine Pugh (@MayorPugh50) August 6, 2018The council\u0026#039;s move on Monday came as a loud retort to years of lobbying by corporations interested in Baltimore\u0026#039;s water system—including the French company Suez Environment, which spent several weeks of last year pitching a takeover to city officials. Human rights advocates have fiercely opposed the privatization proposals.\u0022Such a loss of local control can result in skyrocketing water bills, escalating water shutoff rates, downsizing public sector jobs, and deteriorating service quality,\u0022 noted Rianna Eckel, a Maryland organizer with Food \u0026amp; Water Watch.\u0022Water privatization is simply unethical, immoral, and dangerous,\u0022 Eckel concluded. \u0022Baltimore will be a public water hero when this legislation passes—and should act as an example for other cities.\u0022\u0022It is time for Baltimore to set the precedent for cities across the country,\u0022 declared Glen Middleton, a local AFSCME leader. Members of the union operate the city\u0026#039;s water system and have vocally opposed privatization, which Middleton warns would not only \u0022increase water rates across the city,\u0022 but also \u0022deprive low-income communities and communities of color access to clean and safe water.\u0022Baltimore is not alone in its battle against water privatization, as ThinkProgress outlined:Atlanta\u0026#039;s water privatization deal with United Water 20 years ago is now considered a textbook case against such efforts. The deal ended after only four years amid evidence of rising costs and poor water quality. More recently, New Orleans residents have actively lobbied against similar attempts to privatize their water, while activists have protested related efforts in Puerto Rico as the island struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria last fall.While the Baltimore measure is being hailed as revolutionary, both as an amendment to the charter and because of the city\u0026#039;s size—the latest Census estimate puts the population over 611,000—the Baltimore Sun pointed out that in 2016, the City Council of Northampton, Massachusetts approved a similar ordinance that bars the sale or lease of its water system to prevent privatization.