University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Risks Posed by Water Privatization

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2020
Level City or Town
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Community Development, Finance & Procurement, Health
Water privatization has often proven to be harmful to communities, workers, and the environment, and should not be relied on to help municipalities. While many water systems need improvements, corporate control does not provide a solution to provide long-term sustainability, regulatory compliance, improved water quality, or equitable and affordable access. The corporate control of water systems leads to loss of public control and decision making, reduced access and affordability, and declines in quality that jeopardize health and safety. Private water corporations seek to extract value from struggling systems by raising rates and, in many cases, cutting corners to reduce operating costs, negatively impacting water and/or service quality, which are particularly felt by low-income families and communities of color. If privatization has already occurred, local governments should not renew contracts and should move towards insourcing or reverse-privatization.

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