FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 12, 2023
[Petoskey, Michigan] — President Biden’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council recently issued a report advocating for the privatization of the nation’s water systems. These recommendations ring alarm bells for our Great Lakes communities and beyond. Freshwater Future firmly believes that privatization poses a significant threat to our region’s water security and accessibility.
The advisory council’s chair, the CEO of Global Infrastructure Partners, a major infrastructure investment bank, has placed the privatization of water systems on the nation’s agenda. Specifically, this report explicitly suggests “[r]emoving barriers to privatization, concessions, and other nontraditional models of funding community water systems,” while advocating for opening up federal grant programs to support privatized utilities.
Studies have shown that privately owned water systems on average charge 59 percent more than their publicly owned counterparts, making private ownership the single largest factor associated with higher water bills—more significant than aging infrastructure or drought.
Instead of relying on Wall Street advisers, President Biden should support policies that truly benefit communities. Freshwater Future calls on Congress to pass the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act (HR 1729, S 938). After decades of federal austerity for water infrastructure, the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was a step in the right direction, but it provided only a fraction of what our water and wastewater systems need. The WATER Act would provide a permanent source of federal funding at the level necessary to ensure safe, clean, and affordable public water for all.
Jill Ryan, Executive Director of Freshwater Future, stated, “Rather than focusing on how to create profits, our local municipally owned water systems create value without profit, keeping water bills more affordable. We need our federal and state leaders to step up to help fill the funding gap created by decades of delayed maintenance so that we can ensure access to affordable water for everyone.”
Freshwater Future remains committed to keeping our water and drinking water systems in public ownership and to its mission as a catalyst for community action that strengthens policies designed to safeguard the waters of the Great Lakes region.
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Communications and Development Director