Exclusive Dispatch: Private Water Industry Says Water Bills “Have to Go Up” | Aaron Miguel Cantu | Truth-Out.org

Morning sunlight spilled through long, narrow windowpanes inside the ballroom of the Francis Marion hotel, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, South Carolina, where dozens of public officials, company executives, attorneys and consultants had gathered to portend the future of the water industry in the Southeast United States. Beyond the region, their discussion was aimed at reimagining the future of the entire country’s water infrastructure needs – including their hopes to move it into private hands.

I was the only member of the press present at the Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit, a gathering hosted by the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), “the voice of the private water industry.” Among its top sponsors were American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The NAWC covered the lodging and $200 registration fee for all public officials in attendance, including state legislators and utilities regulators from across the United States.

The discussions of the day touched on several private water sector interests, including desalination and how to circumvent eminent domain law. But the topic that received the most attention was the nation’s patchwork of rapidly deteriorating municipal water systems, which are estimated to need more than $1 trillion worth of upgrades. This, water executives said, not only represented a historic opportunity for their businesses, but could also be used as leverage to finally convince Americans to cough up more money for their tap water. It is the classic Shock Doctrine approach – turning a social crisis into a financial shakedown.


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Private water? Are we going to pay for air next?