WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The city of Baltimore voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban the privatization of its water and sewerage systems, in what supporters say is the first large U.S. jurisdiction to take such a step.
A Baltimore official said multiple cities have expressed interest in similar provisions.
The measure “sends a strong message to private corporations,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland state organizer for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group that promoted the ballot initiative.
“It’s not a sure-fire trick to prevent any privatization ever, but it prohibits the most dangerous efforts,” she added.
Baltimore has one of the oldest water systems in the country, and decades of deferred maintenance have resulted in a quadrupling of water rates since 2000, Eckel said.
It has also prompted worries that privatization would cause further spikes, and that the city would have no control over who these most affected.
Eckel pointed to Food & Water Watch research finding that private water utilities tend to charge almost 60 percent more than public counterparts. »