Who Owns Your Water?

04/17/2015 06:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2015
yotrak via Getty Images

Remunicipalization is big word for a simple concept: it's the process of bringing a formerly privatized service or asset back under public control. For residents and taxpayers, remunicipalization is often the logical conclusion after private water corporations fail to deliver on their promises. For corporations like Veoila and Suez that earn profits from taking over municipal water systems, remunicipalization is a major threat to their business model. And that threat is growing every year.

According to a new book from the Transnational Institute and other organizations, the rate of remunicipalization is "accelerating dramatically":

"Over the last 15 years, 235 cases of water remunicipalization have been recorded in 37 countries, impacting on more than 100 million people. Moreover the pace of remunicipalization is accelerating dramatically, doubling in the 2010-2015 period compared with 2000-2010."

City leaders and residents across the globe are reclaiming their water systems from private profiteers and ensuring that access to clean water remains a human right for every citizen. Last year activists in Detroit took their case to the United Nations. Since 2003, 33 water systems in the United States alone have been brought back under public control in places as diverse as Indianapolis, IN, Stockton, CA and Cameron, TX. Additionally 10 more local governments in the US are working to remunicipalize water services.

Corporate Accountability International has been a leader in the global fight to remunicipalize water systems and they identified four major reasons for this growing trend:

"The widespread problems affecting water privatization irrespective of country and contractual regime, the equal or greater efficiency of public water services, the lower prices resulting from elimination of excessive profits, and the comparative advantage of the public sector in enhancing sustainable water development and realizing the human right to water and sanitation."

As more and more cities realize their water systems are better off under public control, expect to hear the word remunicipalization more often.