Cholera and the Age of the Water Barons
The explosive growth of three private water utility companies in the last 10 years raises fears that mankind may be losing control of its most vital resource to a handful of monopolistic corporations. In Europe and North America, analysts predict that within the next 15 years these companies will control 65 percent to 75 percent of what are now public waterworks. The companies have worked closely with the World Bank and other international financial institutions to gain a foothold on every continent. They aggressively lobby for legislation and trade laws to force cities to privatize their water and set the agenda for debate on solutions to the world’s increasing water scarcity. The companies argue they are more efficient and cheaper than public utilities. Critics say they are predatory capitalists that ultimately plan to control the world’s water resources and drive up prices even as the gap between rich and poor widens. The fear is that accountability will vanish, and the world will lose control of its source of life.
Water and Power: The French Connection
France is the birthplace of modern water privatization, but its leading companies have been rocked by scandals and allegations of influence-peddling.
Metered to Death: How a Water Experiment Caused Riots and a Cholera Epidemic
The biggest problem in this country ravaged by AIDS, tuberculosis and malnourishment, is water. Few can afford it. But with World Bank blessing, the government is trying to end water subsidies, forcing millions of South Africans to seek their water from polluted rivers and lakes. The result: one of the largest outbreaks of cholera.
The 'Aguas' Tango: Cashing In On Buenos Aires' Privatization
Global water giants partnered to run a water system in the Argentine capital that the World Bank touted as a model of privatization. Investors extracted millions in profits. But now the model is crumbling under the weight of mounting costs.
Loaves, Fishes and Dirty Dishes: Manila's Privatized Water Can't Handle the Pressure
Politically connected families and private companies split Manila in two to share turf. At first, the two companies brought miracles by bringing running water to thousands of poor people who never had it. Now the miracle has faded as one company bails out, leaving behind enormous debts.
Water and Politics in the Fall of Suharto
Two powerful multinationals deftly used the World Bank and a compliant dictatorship to split control of a major city’s waterworks.
A Tale of Two Cities
Coastal Cartagena was the first of about 50 cities and towns to privatize its water in Colombia. The capital Bogotá bucked the privatization trend, refused World Bank money and transformed its public utility into the most successful in Colombia.
Low Rates, Needed Repairs Lure 'Big Water' to Uncle Sam's Plumbing
Foreign private companies are gearing up to control a multibillion-dollar market to upgrade the nation’s aging water system, after spending millions of dollars over the last six years to sway Congressional votes on privatization laws. Americans have the safest and cheapest public water systems in the world. But, as foreign companies flex their financial muscle, America’s drinking water may not be so cheap or public for long.
Hard Water: The Uphill Campaign to Privatize Canada's Waterworks
Hamilton was the first privatized large water utility in Canada, a country where waterworks have been overwhelmingly a public affair – and where most people like it that way. The Hamilton experience was supposed to demonstrate an alternative, free market model, supposed to change public opinion. It has. But not as expected.
The Big Pong Down Under
Fifteen months after Adelaide signed a contract turning over its waterworks to a private consortium controlled by Thames Water and Vivendi, the city was engulfed in a powerful sewage smell, which became known as “the big pong.’’
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