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Forum Post: Water Privatization: Coming to a Century Old System Near You?

Posted 9 years ago on June 18, 2014, 6:15 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Water Privatization: Coming to a Century Old System Near You?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:26
By Ellen Dannin, Truthout | News Analysis


The good news is that our more than a century old, dangerously deteriorating water and wastewater systems are about to get long overdue attention. Not only did Congress give the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) a landslide vote - House (412-4) and Senate (91-7) - but on June 10, President Obama signed on.

WRRDA is bringing joy to the financial industry, construction unions, environmentalists, legislators, the transportation industry and almost anyone or thing connected with water. The only thing that seems to be missing is holding hands and singing "Kumbaya." But, while WRRDA has many long-needed features, the reality is that some parts of the law are seriously problematic.

The Word on WRRDA

If you haven't heard of WRRDA, that doesn't mean it is not a big deal. The law's Title I reforms existing problematic water programs. Title II covers navigation and navigable waters. Title III concerns programs related to extreme weather events. Title IV addresses navigable rivers, rural western water and coastal areas. And Title V, which provides public financing for privatized water projects, is likely to be the most controversial of all these provisions.

Among the projects that WRRDA's co-sponsors, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Sen. David Vitter (R-Lousiana), are targeting include infrastructure that is often described as "crumbling" or "past their useful life," including bridges, canals, harbors and rivers. Their goals include creating modern water transportation that will lessen the need for ground transportation and the problems of congestion and pollution. WRRDA also paves the way for the creation of infrastructure that is more resilient in the face of extreme weather and natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.

WRRDA is essentially an omnibus law with many components. Each of those components, which are in themselves quite long, is set out in a title and addresses a specific issue, navigable waterways, for example. One such component addresses water and wastewater infrastructure: the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which, in Senator Boxer's words, is a "new initiative to assist localities in need of loans for flood control or wastewater and drinking water infrastructure to receive those loans from a new funding mechanism."

Finally, WRRDA updates the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides financing for water infrastructure needs as loans are repaid.

The House description of WRRDA (p. 5) draws on historical, economic and patriotic tropes: "From the earliest days of our Nation, our history has included a strong role in transportation." It then refers to Adam Smith, "author of the Wealth of Nations," the "Framers of our Constitution" and the Articles of Confederation - which failed to resolve a dispute between Maryland and Virginia concerning navigation rights on the Potomac River, which led to the Constitutional Convention and a constitution that gave the federal government power to build roads and regulate interstate commerce. The description concludes, "Congress must continue to uphold the federal commitment to provide a robust and unifying physical platform upon which the American people and businesses can compete and prosper."

So much for conservatives, limited government and states' rights.

However, page 6 balances out page 5 with an attack on the "federal bureaucracy [which] continues unchecked and unreformed." It praises "flexibility for state and local governments and opportunities for private sector involvement," and it chides those who have limited the involvement of the private sector "job creators."

WIFIA and Privatization

Over time, we may find many controversial aspects to WRRDA, but, for now, Title V and WIFIA - the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - seem most likely to be the most controversial because of WIFIA's connection with privatization.

WIFIA borrows the structure and role of TIFIA - the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act - in financing water infrastructure. TIFIA has been a controversial form of infrastructure funding in large part because of privatization provisions. As a result, for now, WIFIA will provide limited funding for water infrastructure projects. WIFIA money will be provided through a revolving fund. As WIFIA loans are paid back, the funds will be lent to provide funding for other projects.

Both TIFIA and WIFIA are part of a privatization structure. According to the Associated Builders and Contractors Association, "WRRDA would create a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (P3) program that expands the use of P3s and allows the private sector to fund portions of public projects to ease the financial burden of taxpayers."

Water - Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

What most of us want is clean and abundant water. Meanwhile, what financiers and their law firms, such as the Mayer Brown's of the world, want - and get - is WIFIA, which "is designed to leverage federal funds by attracting substantial private or other non-federal investments to promote increased development of critical water infrastructure and to help speed construction of local projects."

Behind that description of TIFIA - and most likely, in the cards for WIFIA - is a financing scheme that has allowed the private "partner" to put in as little as 3 percent or as much as 10 to 20 percent of the investment. In other words, rather than the private partner coming to the rescue of cash-strapped governments, it is the public that must subsidize private contractors.

The Buddy System of Privatization

The public is at a real disadvantage when it comes to understanding something as simple as getting a drink of water. It takes time, access to understandable information and motivation to learn the basics of water infrastructure and water privatization.

Meanwhile, the infrastructure finance industry has a friend in industry groups such as the American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation, and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, who lobbied for WIFIA in their A Cost Effective Approach to Increasing Investment in Water Infrastructure - The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA).

The American Water Works Association's government affairs office in Washington, DC ensures that the "'voice of water,' is heard in the regulatory process by participating in meetings, workgroups and advisory committees and through official letters and comments." In addition, the "AWWA's Technical Advisory Workgroups can bring the world's foremost experts to lend perspective and understanding to even the most arcane subjects."

The Water Environment Federation lobbies through its partner, the Water for Jobs initiative. Its motto, "Make Water Your Business," follows up by urging the public to lobby by providing sample letters to the editor and through its own LinkedIn page.

Another WIFIA advocate, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), and the US Chamber of Commerce, campaign with the slogan, "Water is Your Business." The NAWC is "the public voice for more than one hundred private water companies, ranging from large investor-owned utilities to small, community-based providers. Seventy-three million Americans - nearly one in four - receive service from a private water service provider."

Finally, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and others argue that WIFIA should be amended to provide more financial support for water projects. In addition, the private sector is lobbying for "a new federal loan program that will offer low-cost financing for major water infrastructure projects costing more than $20 million" and even creating tax-exempt bonds to fund infrastructure.

These and related issues will be taken up in the next part of this story.

Copyright, Truthout.



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[-] 8 points by beautifulworld (23745) 9 years ago

The privatization of water is evil.

And, there are some greedy, disgusting people out there seeking to make profit from water.

"What the Looming Global Water Crisis Means for Investors"


Human beings, beware.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago


Nestle's steals the very Best - WaaaaaTer

[-] 8 points by beautifulworld (23745) 9 years ago

Detroit is shutting off water of delinquent customers.

Abby Martin on "Breaking the Set" shining a light on the inhumane act of turning off water to the poorest customers who can't pay their water bill.


Watch the link from 7:55 on for the water story. But, don't miss the beginning of the show where she outlines how screwed up the American "work" ethic is in total, and how poorly we treat workers here and consequently, children and families.

"It is an unalienable human right to have access to water..." say the protesters. Amen.

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23745) 7 years ago

DNA deteriorating among the poor.

"Scientists Find Alarming Deterioration In DNA Of The Urban Poor"


Not surprising when we realize how the poor are treated in this country. It's time for a Political Revolution. Feel the Bern.


[-] 3 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

Poverty MUST have epigenetic effects that transmit through generations! Any government in The U$A, that will prioritise The Majority of US Citizenry - would constitute a ''Political Revolution'' right now!! So deep into demoCRAZY deMOCKERYcy has The Oligarchy's Duopoly lead the US!!! That was a great link re. Bernie Sanders and here is one re. how he'd fund his program:

fiat justitia ...

[-] 2 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 7 years ago

money is invented in the fed and circulated and drained by the banks

a negative exponential creates an ever growing debt

[-] 4 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

Re. Water's treatment as an ''Asset Class'' by unconscionable nuts, consider this important document:

Money is not just ''invented in the fed'' - which is itself a club of private bankers [and btw, please see IF you can find out who its stock holders really are!], money is mostly created by mere credit creation by private lending institutions, ie. mostly Private Banks. There's a reason Jubilee was extant in OT times!

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''GM Stopped Using Flint Water More Than a Year Before Emergency Declared'' ...

fiat lux et fiat justitia ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23745) 7 years ago

It's not enough to just talk about the middle class when so many Americans are living in poverty. We need to hear more about what we are going to do for the poor.

[-] 3 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

There's a rolling moratorium on news about ''the poor'' and working class - because imo - most of the 90% who are three absent pay checks from bankruptcy, don't want to face their own reality! Also fyi:

e tenebris, lux ...

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''Drugs in the Drinking Water? Don't Ask and Officials Won't Tell'', by Martha Rosenberg:

fiat lux et fiat justitia ...

[-] -2 points by fionachuckles (-375) from Fairview, NJ 7 years ago

Another conspiracy theory of yours? Fantasy boy!

So what did happen to the passengers of Flight 77 if it did not hit the Pentagon? You think they are singing Kumbaya on some remote island? Or, you're going to tell us they never existed? No planes right?

You conspiratard!

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

On http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday - that was a relevant link! However that a vacuous narcissistic fool - is as clueless as you are .. should really be NO surprise to anyone!! NO one here is as interested in talking about 9/!! as you - as deep down and obviously, you too realize that it is THE Foundational lie that has started the events of this century so darkly!!! Consider again - the points and links appended in EDIT - in this link ... http://occupywallst.org/forum/corporate-hag-diebold-corruption/#comment-1070198

You need to wake up to the reality behind Corporate MSM headlines - especially on a day like today in Belgium, so start with this insight into an arch-US ally:

e tenebris - lux ...

[-] 1 points by turbocharger (1756) 7 years ago

There is a lot of stuff that could be happening in poor communities right now with no outside help whatsoever. I'm always shocked at the lack of healthy food alternatives combined with the fact that no one is starting community gardens either.

Seems to me it could be a nice stream of money for people?

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23745) 7 years ago

They don't have time to plant a garden. Working too many hours and trying to raise their kids. What they need is a living wage, healthcare, affordable education and an infrastructure including transportation they can rely on. Food stores would be a part of that crazy thing: A Decent Life.

[-] 0 points by turbocharger (1756) 7 years ago

I work in some of the worst neighborhoods in Tampa, and have all over the country. There is plenty of time for community gardens, no matter who we are talking about.

Besides, what better day to spend with the kids than gardening?

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (23745) 7 years ago

Community gardens are a great idea, I'm not saying that they're not, but surely people need more than that. They have a right to more. They have human rights of basic education, shelter, transportation, healthcare and a wage they can live on. Just sayin'.

I also don't see a stream of money from community gardens. I see it as a return to a subsistence economy which isn't necessarily a bad thing. How about the people own the food supply in this country? Then you'd be talking.

[-] 1 points by turbocharger (1756) 7 years ago

The key to people owning their food supply is to, well, start owning it, right?

It might be a nice income stream for some, but more importantly its putting good fuel in the body and mind. Can't have a well operating engine if you piss in it constantly.

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''Flint and Haiti: A Tale of Two Rivers, a Tale of Two Crimes'', by Victoria Koski-Karell:

''From Haiti to Flint, communities are calling for accountability. They are calling for an end to 11 years of UN occupation; they're calling for an end to so-called "emergency management"; they are calling for the immediate improvement or replacement of water infrastructure. Their human rights have not simply been denied; they've been violated outright. It's a question of health equity.''

fiat justitia ruat caelum ...

[-] 0 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''HARD TO SWALLOW: Toxic Water Under a Toxic System in Flint''

fiat justitia ...

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''CIRCLE OF LIES: Dodging Blame for the Flint River Disaster'':

sic transit gloria mundi ...

[-] 1 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 7 years ago

corporations are responsible for the utility provide for the people

[-] 5 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''Michael Moore Is Right: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Has to Go'' ...

Why are just private corporations responsible for Public Utilities? Why not county/state Municipalities? Or Co-ops? Perhaps the Private Profit Motive is inconsistent with provision of the basics of modern life?

radix omnium malorum est cupiditas ...

[-] 1 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 7 years ago

a money base need to re enter the populace through some means after the elite collect their profit

government employees is one of those venues

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

Perhaps you mean ''Basic Income / People's QE''? If you do, please consider:

Consider that the US is suffering from a slightly milder form of the Fiscal Austerity than that prevailing in Europe and apparently, some 500,000+ fewer people are now employed by the public sector in the USA than before the Global Financial Crisis. However, just with normal expansion in government employment since 2008, there would actually have been maybe two million more jobs. Finally, please also try to see:

fiat lux ...


[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

"THIRST FOR TRUTH: Who's to Blame for Flint's Water Crisis?"

veritas vos liberabit ...

[-] 7 points by turbocharger (1756) 9 years ago

Its interesting that while water is a public utility, it is billed on an individual residence basis.

Perhaps the roads should be billed the same way. Very few people have issues with the water function (quality is another story) but the roads are in shambles from one side of this country to the other.

[-] 3 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''How Hillary Clinton’s Vote Against Clean Water Regulations Could Cost Her Michigan'':

Also - that web-site [ http://usuncut.com/ ] is an excellent info source and I really recommend it.

fiat lux ...

[-] 3 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will'', by Michael Moore:

''When Governor Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs.

''So, many things -- schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water -- were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as "dictators" over these cities.

''Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks. That's where the idea of switching Flint to river water came from. To save $15 million! It was easy. Suspend democracy. Cut taxes for the rich. Make the poor drink toxic river water. And everybody's happy.

''Except those who were poisoned in the process. All 102,000 of them. In the richest country in the world.''

Private For Profit Provision of essentials, in de facto monopolies leads to corruption & gouging!

fiat justitia ruat caelum ...

[-] 3 points by turbocharger (1756) 7 years ago

I do suppose as the corruption and stupidity continues, even things that have traditionally been stable will fall apart.

[-] 3 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

" * "=TWINKLE! It seems: Unchecked Avarice + The Profit Motive + CEO & top executive pay based on shareholder returns + ever increasing stock valuation = Moral Hazard / Perverse Incentives + Regulatory Capture / Conflicts of Interest!! The Entire Over-Financialized m.o. of Modern Crapitalism - now needs to be over hauled - maybe by a ''Political Revolution'' for The Common Good of Species + Planet!!! Also fyi:

spero meliora ...

[-] 3 points by beautifulworld (23745) 7 years ago

Christie sells NJ's public water system to private corporations:


Great guy. This is why Bernie Sanders' campaign is SO important. He's shedding a light on this kind of behavior and it will soon be so unacceptable to the American people that shitheads like Chris Christie will not be able to get away with their greedy, immoral, deleterious behavior.

[-] 4 points by Viking (417) 7 years ago

Christie should have been impeached and put in jail. The fact that he wasn't is typical of the two-tiered justice system in this country.

Christie's scam investigation on Bridgegate demands a new probe - Editorial


[-] 3 points by MattHolck0 (3867) 7 years ago

1 person could be assigned to check water safety publicly and daily

indeed a live cam reading instruments could be automated so people may check the numbers

put in a public net to cross reference independent locations and public broadcast

so anyone can check the water pollution levels and continual chemical analysis

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

Christie is yet another Corporation & Banker enthralled, p-o-s wearing a suit, shirt & tie, pretending to be a human being, so that he can garner votes from mind-managed ''Turkeys Voting For Thanksgiving'', such that he can continue serving his 0.01% Masters!!! Hmmmmm!! I don't think I like him very much! More in keeping with this thread, please consider:

From which .. ''As physicians, we are concerned about the future of our water supply. The Flint water crisis should provoke a public debate at the national level about the best ways to protect clean water, including what type of water infrastructure is required and how water is owned and managed.'' Hmmm.

fiat lux ...

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''Beyond Flint, Michigan: Mainstreaming the Navajo Water Crisis'', by Courtney Parker:

fiat justitia ...

[-] 2 points by ImNotMe (1488) 7 years ago

''Flint’s Crisis Is About More Than Water'', by Chris Hedges:

From which ... ''The crisis in Flint is far more ominous than lead-contaminated water. It is symptomatic of the collapse of our democracy. Corporate power is not held accountable for its crimes. Everything is up for sale, including children. Our regulatory agencies—including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and - Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality—have been defunded, emasculated and handed over to corporate-friendly stooges. Our corrupt courts are part of a mirage of justice. The role of these government agencies and the courts, and of the legislatures, is to sanction abuse rather than halt it.

Further''The primacy of profit throughout the society takes precedence over life itself, including the life of the most vulnerable. This corporate system of power knows no limits. It has no internal restraints. It will sacrifice all of us, including our children, on the altar of corporate greed. In a functioning judicial system, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley - along with all of the regulatory officials who lied as a city was being sickened, would be in jail facing trial.''

caveat ...

[-] 6 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

"The Global Water Grab", by Shiney Varghese :

''A World Without Water'', by 'True Vision' :

''The Story of Bottle Water'' :

''Blue Gold : World Water Wars'' A full length doc. film by Mark Achbar :

''FLOW : For Love of Water'' (2008) An excellent documentary film by Irena Salina :

Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. ''Flow'' confronts the disturbing reality that our crucial water resource is dwindling and greed just may be the cause.

Featuring Maude Barlow ... who uncovers the corporate profiteering that drives the huge global water business, it is an excellent insight into the water related issues that face us all wherever we are living, including the alarming effects of the synthetic agro-chemical 'Atrazine' in water . Also try to consider :

minima maxima sunt ...

[-] 7 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Water Weaponized

[-] 6 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

The Water Wars are already here .. even IF we don't realise that is what they are sometimes !!! Have you ever heard of Gaddaffi's ''Great Man-made River Project'' ?!! Well worth looking into, i promise u !

Here's a twitter feed on #WaterPrivatisation that I try to contribute to now and again :

Best wishes and solidarity to you and yours Nev1 on this 4th of July and do have a good one :-)

pax, amor et lux ...

[-] 5 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Oregon man jailed for catching rain water on his property---------This is the trend--------We have a problem.

[-] 4 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Thank you shadz for kind words, and same for you.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 9 years ago

Re. ''jailed for catching rain water'' !!! WHAT ?!! Are you sure about that Nev1 ?!

verum ex absurdo ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 6 months ago

"The USA is the world’s richest country. So why can’t I get a glass of clean drinking water?" by Arwa Mahdawi:

AS "8,000 gallons of latex were accidentally dumped in the Delaware River - and tap water across the country is laced with disturbing chemicals"! & ENDING ...

WITH "In 2021, the owner of one hedge fund called water in the US “a trillion-dollar market opportunity”. Meanwhile, other investors have been snapping up rights to the Colorado River. Capitalism is going to poison us all"!

et spero meliora!

[-] 3 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

"the poor have no right to water"- Detriot Judge:


Outrageous, & obscene.

Ignores basic human rights.

"The U.N. Special Rapporteur on drinking water issues said that “when there is a genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbids disconnections.” The city of Detroit has raised water rates by triple-digit percentages in recent years despite having one of the poorest customer bases in the country."

[-] 6 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Trillions for war, no water for citizens. Filthy 3rd world dictatorship. TPTB really do want us dead.

[-] 3 points by elf3 (4203) 9 years ago

Model is: kill the economy by sending jobs overseas...jack up prices and privatize..then call on the fed and working class tax payers who are barely hanging on to pay the exorbitant prices after the UN gets called in (and should be called in) Detroit needs to cut big business out of the picture altogether...it is clear that when big daddy business takes away your car...you will be left alone on the highway ..this could happen to any city that relies on big business. This is the equivalent of I made you and I can break you and only I can save you. If we don't start breaking up big business and creating pathways for individual and small ownership, we are giving up our self reliance. We are relying on psychopaths to live. This is dumb. The common denominator for all third world nations is the lack of individual entrepreneurs...and government in alliance with monopolies squashing individuals who try to get in the market. It is clearly dangerous to rely on monopolies to survive...if you do your life is in their hands and when they drop you...you die ( and for now the taxpayers can step in to help)... until it happens to them too.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Had ta tweet that.

DKAtoday @DKAtoday · 39s 39 seconds ago

Trillions for War

Next to Nothing for the struggling poverty stricken in the USA

Some Pretty Fucked-up Priorities - Hey?

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Talk about fucked up priorities by our beloved government that "cares" so much for it's population/society/economy/environment/world/health - Hey?

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

Support 'Food & Water Watch" (pressure others & TPTB) in their efforts to denounce & end this human rights abuse.


"We all know that water service delivery has a price, but nobody should be expected to pay it with their dignity. We urge local leaders, including Judge Rhodes, to immediately restore water service to Detroit residents and implement the 2005 water affordability plan so that all Detroiters can have access to safe, clean, affordable water.”

Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905; kfried(at)fwwatch.org.

Years of hard work in the streets, & voting booth are required.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Wondering if Detroit is a test run, for the development of Sacrifice Zones and other Persecution Methods.

[-] 2 points by turbocharger (1756) 9 years ago

The entire country is a sacrifice zone at this point.

One look at the amount of trash on the sides of the roads might make one think the people have declared it as much as well.

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

None of us should doubt that when profiteers take/force these actions, they are carefully observing & measuring our responses/level of protest.

It is critical we encourage as many people into the streets & pressuring pols.

"if we don't stand up for this, we'll go for anything"

"Agitate,agitate,agitate" FD

"make some noise!!!"

[-] 2 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

Well Said 99. Let's Give Them Hell.

[-] -1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

Occupy supports Detroitwaterbrigade

DetroitWater Wars

The fight for water rages in Detroit. Each day, hundreds of low-income families are visited by shutoff trucks run by private contractors of the 1%. Their water is turned off for the simple fact that they are unable to pay for water at rates that are nearly twice the national average. Meanwhile, the Water Department collapses under the weight of massive Wall Street debt incurred by corrupt businessmen and their lapdog politicians now behind bars. Profit-seeking vultures swoop overhead, waiting to capitalize on the collapse of yet-another under-funded and over-financialized public service through privatization.

We must stop the blanket heist of our public commons by capitalists, and the fight-back starts in Detroit.

Regular Detroiters are stepping up to take the #DetroitWater Pledge of Resistance. Will you join them in pledging, if necessary, to join others in your community, and engage in acts of dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could result in arrest in order to protect and uphold the human right to water in Detroit? (You can also pledge to support fellow Water Warriors who step up to take direct action if you aren't ready to take action yourself.)

•Sign the #DetroitWater Pledge of Resistance and share it with your friends!

•Make a donation to the #DetroitWater Bail Fund to support Water Warriors arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience. Solidarity,

Occupy Wall Street + Detroit Water Brigade



[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

[ edit ] It does look to be a test ground. Sacrifice zones? Perhaps. How thoroughly/completely can a USA population be stomped upon without triggering massive armed riot? - would also be a likely test parameter.

edit-> How well can the militarized police hold off the rioting mobs prior to calling in the actual military - another test parameter?

How fast and efficient and effective a military response to massive public rioting - another test parameter?

Not too long ago ( couple of weeks ) the military did some unannounced training Helicopter flights through the downtown areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

[-] 1 points by Nevada1 (5843) 9 years ago

You made some good points here.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

[ edit ] People should read Shock Doctrine as well as other good food for thought publications. Long past time the sheltered education/life public wakes up to the facts of how they ( we ) are being manipulated and otherwise used.

edit -> ooooooooooooooooooooo required reading beginning in like 7th grade? Part of Social Studies ( social sciences ) ? Revisit every year through graduation from High School and make it a college level extension course?

[-] -2 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 9 years ago

Had ta tweet on this as well.

DKAtoday @DKAtoday · 1m 1 minute ago

Rather than fix the problems in this country - is this what is happening? https://occupywallst.org/forum/water-privatization-coming-to-a-century-old-system/#comment-1049201

[-] 6 points by LeoYo (5909) 9 years ago

Water Cut-Off in Detroit Violates Human Rights, Say Activists

Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00
By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service | Report


United Nations - When the United Nations reaches out to resolve a water or sanitation crisis, it is largely across urban slums and remote villages in Asia, Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean.

But a severe water crisis in the financially bankrupt city of Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan has prompted several non-governmental organisations and activists to appeal for U.N. intervention in one of the world's richest countries.

"This is unprecedented," said Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project, a group that advocates water as a human right.

"I visited the city and worked with the Detroit People's Water Board several weeks ago and came away terribly upset," she told IPS.

She pointed out that hundreds of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, are having their water ruthlessly turned off.

Families with children, the elderly and the sick, cannot bathe, flush their toilets or cook in their own homes, she added.

"This is the worst violation of the human right to water I have ever seen outside of the worst slums in the poorest countries in failed states of the global South," said Barlow, a one-time senior advisor on water to a former President of the U.N. General Assembly.

Last March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced plans to shut off water service for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if their water bills were not paid. And on June 17, the City Council approved an 8.7-percent water rate increase.

According to a DWSD document, more than 80,000 residential households – in a city of 680,000 people – are in arrears, with thousands of families without water, and thousands more expected to lose access at any moment.

A group of NGOs has submitted a report to Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, urging the United Nations to weigh in on the crisis and help restore water services and stop further cut-offs.

In a joint report released June 18, the Detroit People's Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organisation and Food and Water Watch made several recommendations, including an appeal to the state of Michigan and the U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation.

The report also calls on the city of Detroit to abandon its plans for further cut-offs and restore services to households that have suffered water cuts.

Mary Grant, researcher at Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group based in Washington DC, told IPS people often think the United States has fully met the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and provides universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

But as the crisis in Detroit shows, the situation is more complex and certain communities lack these essential services, she added.

When the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water visited the United States last year, Food & Water Watch wrote a report delineating violations of the human right to water and sanitation across the country, primarily in rural, Latino and immigrant, Native American and homeless communities.

Grant said water shutoffs for non-payment are one way these violations are occurring.

In Detroit and other cities, she pointed out, households can lose access to drinking water and wastewater service when they cannot afford to pay their water bills.

The few low-income assistance programmes that exist are inadequate and fail to meet the needs of struggling households, she added.

"Water bills are regressive, so low-income households pay a disproportionate amount of their income for water service. Unfortunately, water rates across the country are increasing."

She said there are many factors driving this: federal assistance for water infrastructure has been cut back by more than three-quarters since the 1970s, ageing systems are reaching the end of their lifespan, and water quality standards are getting stronger "as we learn more about the health risks of substances that contaminate our water."

Large cities, in particular, are struggling to maintain and modernise water systems without making water service unaffordable for their least well-off residents, said Grant.

Food & Water Watch's research has found that communities experience even larger water rate increases when systems are privatised.

Grant said the shutoffs appear to be an attempt to make the water and sewer system more appealing to potential private investors.

Over the last decade, Detroit residents have seen water rates rise by 119 percent, according to a press release.

With unemployment rates at a record high and the poverty rate at about 40 percent, Detroit water bills are unaffordable to a significant portion of the population.

Many of those affected by the shut-offs were given no warning.

"The infirm have been left without water and functioning toilets, children cannot bathe and parents cannot adequately prepare food for their families", the press release said.

Barlow told IPS Detroit is "the canary in the coal mine."

Through years of corruption and mismanagement, deep cuts to infrastructure and social security, the city is now bankrupt and unable to care for its people, she noted.

And years of neoliberal policies such as free trade, de-regulation and privatisation have allowed the wealth to be diverted to the suburbs and jobs to move overseas.

"Detroit is our collective future if we do not start re-investing in essential services, education and health care, local communities and sustainable local economic development," said Barlow.

She said, "What is happening with these cut-offs is a social crime.Here in North America we are creating failed states and punishing the most vulnerable among us with these ruthless polices of savage capitalism."

She said the city has experienced flight of wealth and business and as a result, the poorest and most vulnerable have had to pick up the tab for essential public services.

"Water rates have gone through the roof and people cannot pay. Let Detroit be our wake-up call. President Barack Obama must step in," Barlow pleaded.

Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization.

[-] 6 points by LeoYoh (115) 9 years ago

Water Is a Human Right: Detroit Residents Seek UN Intervention as City Shuts Off Taps to Thousands

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:03
By Amy Goodman and Aaron Mate, Democracy Now! | Video Interview


Activists in Detroit have appealed to the United Nations over the city's move to shut off the water of thousands of residents. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says half of its 323,000 accounts are delinquent and has begun turning off the taps of those who do not pay bills that total above $150 or that are 60 days late. Since March, up to 3,000 account holders have had their water cut off every week. The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 billion in debt and has been the subject of privatization talks. In a submission to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, activists say Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of basic rights. We speak to Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Meera Karunananthan, international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AARON MATÉ: Activists in Detroit have appealed to the U.N. over the city's move to shut off the water of thousands of residents. The Detroit water authority says half of its 323,000 accounts are delinquent. It has begun turning off the taps of those who do not pay bills that total above $150 or that are 60 days late. Since March, up to 3,000 account holders have had their taps shut off per week. The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 billion in debt and has been the subject of talks to privatize.

Activists have been organizing against the water shutoffs, saying they target Detroit's most vulnerable families. This is [an unidentified protester].

PROTESTER: I want to tell you why six kids on this porch when they came to shut off the water, and their parents had to run to try to find how they're going to pay their water bill. Another woman, she's pregnant. She has a two-year-old. She's holding a bill for $400 in her hand, and she's begging the man, "Don't turn off my water." A pregnant woman with a $400 bill. You're going to close the water off for a woman with a $400 bill who's pregnant and a two-year-old. Shame on you!

AMY GOODMAN: That was [an unidentified activist protesting the water shutoffs]. In a submission to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, activists say Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of basic rights. The group Food & Water Watch said, "By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water." The poverty rate in Detroit is approximately 40 percent, and people have seen their water bills increase by 119 percent within the last decade. Most of the residents are African American. Two-thirds of those impacted by the water shutoffs involve families with children.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, or DWSD, had defended its actions, saying the water shutoffs are necessary for alleviating the department's debts. This is Greg Eno, the public affairs specialist at DWSD.

GREG ENO: We're trying to work with people more aggressively—let's put it that way—to try to get them either on payment plans or to get them paid. And it has worked. It has—we've increased our—we've lowered our debt a little bit by doing that.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Detroit, Michigan, where we're joined by Maureen Taylor, the state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. In Ottawa, Canada, we're joined by Meera Karunananthan, an international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project. Her group filed the submission to the U.N. special rapporteur regarding the right to drinking water in Detroit.

We invited Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to join us on the program, but his office declined our request.

Maureen and Meera, thanks for joining us. Maureen, tell us what's happening on the ground. People must be scratching their heads around the United States and around the world to hear this. How many people are having their water cut off in Detroit every week?

MAUREEN TAYLOR: We're getting conflicting information. And good morning to you. We're told that it's anywhere from 3,000 per month to 3,000 per week. It is historical for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to not give its residents information. But at our offices at Michigan Welfare Rights, we are getting 30 to 40 calls an hour where people are saying, "I either have a water bill, and I'm afraid that my water is about to be cut off," or, "My water has already been cut off. What can you do to help us and give us some information?" So, it is scandalous.

And we live in the Great Lakes. And to have water threatened and people told that if your bill is $150 or more, you're on a block, a chopping block, where your water is going to be turned off, in Michigan, it is particularly egregious, because a household that has welfare involvement, and water is turned off with minor children in a home, means that protective services can come in and take the children out and put them in foster care. And in a foster care home, you can earn more money as a foster parent than you can as a birth mother. It's just scandalous what's going on in Detroit. Just scandalous.

[-] 7 points by LeoYoh (115) 9 years ago

AMY GOODMAN: And what can families do if they don't have water? Where do they get clean water?

MAUREEN TAYLOR: Well, again, we live in the Great Lakes, so it's just—it's an outrage to even have this discussion, that this kind of attack is going on. What we advise people to do is, first of all, we get information on what is the reason why you may be behind on your water bill. We have multiple agencies and organizations that we can send people to to get partial payments. We try and encourage people to set up payment plans.

But the number of people that are under attack—and again, we're talking about blue-collar workers in Detroit. This is an orchestrated attack by banks and corporations and whatnot, in an effort to try to enrich themselves. And so, as the water department is trying to justify this egregious behavior, we didn't have any choice. But our colleagues in Canada that suggested perhaps we should go to the U.N., we jumped at the opportunity. And we are expecting the United Nations to come to Detroit, take a look at what's going on here and to make some kind of declarations about human rights violations. This is an outrage.

AARON MATÉ: Meera Karunananthan, you're with the Blue Planet Project. Your group authored this report to the U.N. Can you talk about what this statement, this appeal, says?

MEERA KARUNANANTHAN: [Inaudible] the United Nations will look at the facts, look at what's happening in Detroit, and join us in declaring this a violation of the human right to water and sanitation. If you listen to the Department of Water and Sewerage in Detroit, you would think this is—you know, this is a case of people not paying for running shoes they've purchased. But we're talking about the water and sanitation services the people in Detroit are entitled to. This is their public water and sanitation utility. And so, the level of cutoffs that we're seeing in Detroit, it's absolutely outrageous. It is a scandal, and it is a—it's a human rights violation. And these are not the measures that should be taken by the city to address the problem of underfunding in the—to the water and sanitation services.

AMY GOODMAN: Meera, how much—

MEERA KARUNANANTHAN: Now, we're calling on the U.S. government, we're calling on Congress to intervene, we're calling on the state of Michigan to intervene, because both the federal government and the state have obligations to ensure that the rights of the people in the city of Detroit are respected.

AMY GOODMAN: Meera, how much do people pay for water in Detroit compared to other parts of the country?

MEERA KARUNANANTHAN: Well, the average—the national average is somewhere between $40 and $50 a month. In the city of Detroit, it's something like $75 per household per month. Now, our—according to the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, that's actually closer to, for a family of four, they're paying $150 to $200 per month. And that's—in a city like Detroit, that's up to 20 percent—

AMY GOODMAN: And how much do people pay—

MEERA KARUNANANTHAN: —of the average monthly income.

AMY GOODMAN: How much do people make on average?

MEERA KARUNANANTHAN: And when you look at the number, the amount, the average household income in the city of Detroit is something like $25,000. I compared that to our situation here in Ottawa, Canada, where the average household income is in the range of $90,000, and we pay something like $50 a month for our water and sewerage bills. So, the rates are exorbitant and unaffordable in a city where the poverty rates are as high as they are in the city of Detroit.

AARON MATÉ: Maureen Taylor, I have to ask you, there's been basically no federal aid for Detroit. There was a measure to give about $300 million that's been proposed in private and federal funding. But seeing how banks, how auto companies got big bailouts, and Detroit was left to bleed, it's a city that's four-fifths black, 80 percent African-American. Do you think racism is at play here?

MAUREEN TAYLOR: Racism is always at play. People of color can never escape the shadow of the plantation. But we are moving quickly, not away from that, but we are joining this question of black and white with green. This is about greed. This is about the fact that there used to be about 1.4, 1.5 million people that lived in Detroit, and just in Detroit. And what was popular here was Dodge Main, Chevrolet Gear and Axle, Huber Avenue Foundry, Lynch Road Assembly, Rouge Plant, the great Rouge Plant, where the great, late General Baker worked for many, many years. And these factories built something called a middle class across the country.

Just where I live in Detroit alone, 400,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared. No one can take that kind of a hit. And where did they go? They went the way of technology. That's the technology that used to enhance labor, now replaces labor. So R2-D2 robots now work at these, quote-unquote, "factories." These dinosaurs are gone. And so those good-paying jobs left with them. And, of course, you have people of color—let's go get them first. Of course, you have blue-collar workers—let's go get them first.

But this is more egregious. A woman and a child living on welfare in Michigan gets $420 a month in cash assistance. That tabulates to $5,040 in a year. This no-good, trifling, backstabbing Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager, is getting a thousand dollars an hour. This man makes $8,000 in one day; and a family of two, $5,040 in a year. It's outrageous. And then to come after folks that have lost work, that have lost jobs, that are sticking and staying in Detroit to try to help to rebuild and repopulate my city, and then to say, "What we're going to do is turn your water off because you can't pay for it"? Not going to tolerate this mess.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to have—

MAUREEN TAYLOR: We're not going to tolerate it.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to have to leave it there, but we will certainly continue to cover this crucial issue. Maureen Taylor, state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. Meera Karunananthan is international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago
[-] 5 points by turbocharger (1756) 9 years ago

Ah, gotta love Ms Boxer. She going to be in the Entourage movie?

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (23745) 8 years ago

Water is a human right !!!

Thanks, Leo, for all you did here.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 9 years ago

.Water privatization is a problem in the US. It's unfortunate that it has not gained much attention here. I suppose that it would have interfered with the little free market philosophy of those here.

[-] -1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

Action against Water Privatization!!


"The World Bank is a driving force behind the world water crisis. For decades they have funded and invested directly in water privatization projects that fail time and again. We've seen it happen in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and other countries around the world."

We need your support.


[-] 4 points by turbocharger (1756) 9 years ago

And yet when its held by a "public" corporation ie the government, and you don't pay your bill, it still gets turned off.


[-] -2 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

The selfishness, apathy, hopelessness, ignorance, hatred,... etc of the people is the reason our protests have not prevented the inhuman injustice of shutting off water in Detroit.

The libertarian, privatization mantra, extreme capitalist based logic that is being employed by unelected officials to turn public resources with corps.

People power has thus far failed to overcome the corp power that owns/dictates our gov action.


"The deal crafted earlier this week putting a regional authority in charge of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department creates the political and legal foundation for the largest privatization of a municipally owned water department in the United States."

Our outrage must grow, spread, and persevere. We must redouble our efforts, larger protests, boycotts, voting, civil disobedience, etc

The power of the people IS greater than the people in power, we just have to overcome all the above reasons for peoples inaction.

Join us. We need you to keep private corps off our water!!

[-] -1 points by 99nproud (2697) 9 years ago

Take action! Watertheft-Nigeria

"The World Bank is a driving force behind the world water crisis. For decades they have funded and invested directly in water privatization projects that fail time and again. We've seen it happen in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and other countries around the world."

Demand WorldBank stop Water Provatization in Nigeria