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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 September 19 - 25  > Public water service is vital to safeguard people’s right to water
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2018 September 19 - 25 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Public water service is vital to safeguard people’s right to water

September 22, 2018

Akahata ‘current’ column

A stable and affordable water supply is vital to everybody’s daily life. Most people can see what problems will arise if this essential service is handed over to for-profit private companies. In a bid to prevent this possibility, one city has taken a bold step to protect its public water system. It is Baltimore in the eastern U.S.

In order to prevent sewer and water supply services from being privatized, the Baltimore City Assembly in August decided to amend the city’s charter which lays down rules to be followed by the city administration. The new rules will ban the city from selling or leasing the water system. The amendment was unanimously passed in the assembly.

The assembly’s decision was triggered by a local newspaper report stating that a major water company was seeking to take over the city’s water service. Environmental organizations and other civil groups campaigned against the privatization, and opposition movements grew in size and influence.

The slogan, “The access to water is a basic human right”, dealt the decisive blow to the proponents. The city assembly received a lot of messages from citizens who pointed to what happened in cities where water services had been privatized and citizens’ right to live was affected. They insisted that in these cities, the water rates soared, water quality deteriorated, and infrastructure investment was slashed. The citizens stressed that profit-seeking came before citizens’ livelihoods and health, and that no water privatization plan has ever succeeded.

Paris and Berlin, for example, privatized water operations in the past but later reversed their decisions because citizens suffered many inconveniences from the privatizations. Baltimore City’s revised charter needs to be approved in a local referendum to take effect. The city assembly acknowledged that a public water supply is priceless. This move underlies the growing world trend against privatization.

In Japan, in the last Diet session, the House of Representatives passed a bill to promote private companies’ entry into water services. The bill is pending in the House of Councilors. The need for Japan is to abolish the bill and for citizens to express their determination to uphold the idea that public access to clean, affordable water is a basic human right.

Past related articles:
> Public workers discuss privatization of public waterworks [July 26, 2018]
> Opposition parties oppose water privatization [July 6, 2018]
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