"Beware the Water Cowboys"

"As communities struggle to balance their ever-shrinking budgets, investment firms and large, predominantly foreign companies are seizing the moment. Across the country, communities are being aggressively courted to sell or lease their drinking water and wastewater utilities to private companies. Since 1991, water utilities interested in profit have seduced at least 144 cities and towns into privatizing their domestic water systems. Most were in the nation's Rust Belt. But this year, a record number of communities are considering it, including some in the West: Tulsa, Okla., Fresno County and Rialto, Calif., and Comal County, Texas, are all considering privatization.

But before they answer the siren call of private water companies, Western cities should heed the experiences of other communities."

Elanor Starmer reports for Grist January 19, 2011.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011