Don’t Believe the Hype: Privatized Water Is Not in Consumers’ Best Interest

Feb. 9, 2005

Don’t Believe the Hype: Privatized Water Is Not in Consumers’ Best Interest

New Report Exposes Water Giant Veolia’s History and Track Record

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Water companies are slowly encroaching on communities around the world, pushing privatization as the solution to a deepening global water crisis despite a history of public failures and scandals, and consumers shouldn’t buy their hype, said Public Citizen today as it released a new report on the largest water company in the world, Veolia Environnement.

The report focuses on the French-owned multinational company, which operates in 84 countries and had a 2004 net income of $2.58 billion. Its U.S. arm is now called Veolia Water North America, formerly known as USFilter, which operates and manages water and/or wastewater facilities and systems in 38 states.

Public ownership of water systems provides more stability, better economic development, more reliable service and lower rates than private ownership, said the national consumer advocacy organization.   The group warned that privatization, despite its promise of efficiency and improved management, often fails to deliver stable rates and good customer service to the city in which it serves. 

“Despite repeated public failures in the United States, these water companies continue to push their unwanted vision on us,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Water for All Campaign.  “Veolia leads this industry, and it’s time that the public learned more about how this corporation operates, particularly its shoddy environmental record.  As Veolia attempts to expand its control of the world’s water resources on every continent, in nations rich and poor, citizens, communities and countries need to understand Veolia’s purpose, practices and track record.”

In its Fall/Winter 2004 magazine, Veolia published a critical piece about Public Citizen titled “PPPs vs. PC,” where it defended its practices and attempted to discredit Public Citizen’ Water for All Campaign.  (To read the article, click here.)  In response, Public Citizen issued a statement.

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For more information on water privatization, click here.