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Money Down the Drain

Money Down the Drain

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Our country faces one of the greatest challenges of this generation. The collapse of the housing market has forced families out of their homes, dried up capital markets, led to job loss and unemployment and left local governments scrounging for money just to keep day-to-day operations running. This includes water and sewer service. Dilapidated sewer lines, faltering treatment plants and unfunded federal mandates only further burden struggling municipalities. Water corporations are trying to milk this economic turmoil for all its worth. They are approaching cash starved cities and towns with offers of money in exchange for their water and wastewater systems.
Our country faces one of the greatest challenges of this generation. The collapse of the housing market has forced families out of their homes, dried up capital markets, led to job loss and unemployment and left local governments scrounging for money just to keep day-to-day operations running. This includes water and sewer service. Dilapidated sewer lines, faltering treatment plants and unfunded federal mandates only further burden struggling municipalities. Water corporations are trying to milk this economic turmoil for all its worth. They are approaching cash starved cities and towns with offers of money in exchange for their water and wastewater systems.

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Published by: Food and Water Watch on Feb 24, 2009
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09/17/2012

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Money Down the Drain
How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources
 
 About Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challengethe corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transformingthe public consciousness about what we eat and drink. Food & Water Watch works with grassroots organizations aroundthe world to create an economically and environmentally viable future. Through research, public and policymaker educa-tion, media and lobbying, we advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food produced in a humane and sustain-able manner, and public, rather than private, control of water resources including oceans, rivers and groundwater.
Food & Water Watch
 Main Office
1616 P St. NW, Suite 300 Washington, DC 20036tel: (202) 683-2500fax: (202) 683-2501info@fwwatch.org www.foodandwaterwatch.orgCopyright © February 2009 by Food & Water Watch. All rights reserved. This report can be viewed or downloaded at www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
California Office
25 Stillman Street, Suite 200San Francisco, CA 94107tel: (415) 293-9900fax: (415) 293-9941california@fwwatch.org
 
Money Down the Drain
How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources
Table of Contents
 
iv 
Executive Summary and Findings
1
The Public Has a Right to Decide
4
The Price of Privatization: “Taxing Through the Tap”
5
 
Table 1: State-by-State Comparison of Public and Private Water Bills
5
 
Figure 1: Comparison of Household Water Bills of Private and Public Utilities, by State
6
 
Table 2: State-by-State Comparison of Public and Private Sewer Bills
6
 
Figure 2: Comparison of Household Sewer Bills of Private and Public Utilities, by State
6
The Myth of Private Sector Efciency
7
Figure 3: Interest Rates of Different Financing Options (1998-2007)
7
The Financing of Last Resort: How Privatization Can Increase Costs
8
Expensive Financing Costs
9
Prots and Taxes
9
Environmental Damage
9
Poor Service
10
Limited Competition and Consolidation
10
High Transaction Costs
11
Lost Public Benets
12
Accountability
12
Privatization Is Irresponsible
12
Figures That Count 
12
Case Studies I: The High Cost of Privatization
13
Table 3: Comparing the Costs of Public and Private Service
18
Table 4: What Happens When Corporations Take Over Water and Sewer Systems? 
18
Case Studies II: The Fallout of Declining Federal Funding
24
Case Studies III: Saving Money with Public Operation
28
Recommendations: The Public Can Do It Better 
29
 
Examples of How Public Utilities Have Championed Cost-Cutting Measures
30
 
Tools of the Trade: A Five-Point Guide to Help Fight Privatization in Your Community 
30
Conclusions
31
Appendix A: Methodology for Water and Sewer Rate Comparison
33
 
Table 5: Water Rate Comparison Survey Details
33
 
Table 6: Sewer Rate Comparison Survey Details
34
Appendix B: Private Players
35
Endnotes

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