Water is essential for life, but increasingly, it is viewed as a source of windfall profits. This is unacceptable; access to clean water should not be based on who can pay the most.
Food & Water Watch opposes the commodification of water in all forms, and educates about the importance of keeping our public water infrastructure working and water service affordable so no home in the U.S. or abroad goes without safe water.
Bottled water means massive corporate profits—and less support for our public water. Multinational corporations like Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola sell single-use plastic bottles – waste that ends up in landfills and ultimately, litters our oceans – for thousands of times what it costs to get that water from the tap. While they market bottled water as a beverage of convenience, it’s coming at the expense of our public water infrastructure — which has provided affordable and convenient access to water for over a hundred years.
We shouldn’t have to rely on corporations like Nestlé for this life-giving resource — water should be locally-managed by accountable authorities, like democratically-elected local governments. We oppose needlessly expensive bottled water in favor of affordable, safe tap water.
Corporate Control of Water Systems
Other corporations, like Veolia or Suez — and their subsidiaries around the world, including in the United States — are seeking to profit off of managing local water systems that provide our drinking water and sewerage services. And financial institutions like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank place conditions on loans to developing countries that require privatization of water and sewer utilities and increased consumer prices for essential services.
But this is a recipe for disaster. Profits should not be the priority when it comes to providing water services to people, but that’s exactly what happens when private companies take over local systems.
Using Our Tax Dollars to Support Public Water Systems
Rather than let our struggling local governments fall prey to the advances of private water operators, we believe our federal government should continue to provide funding for water infrastructure so that everyone in America can have access to locally-managed, affordable, safe and clean drinking water service. On a per capita basis, federal funding has declined 82% since its peak. In 1977, the federal government spent $76.27 per person (in 2014 dollars) on our water services, but by 2014 that support had fallen to $13.68 per person. That’s why we support the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act. This legislation will provide a long-term, comprehensive solution to bridge the current water-funding gap by taxing offshore corporate profits in the year they are generated. If passed, the WATER Act will secure a significant portion of what we need to protect our drinking water and create up to 945,000 jobs. With many systems advancing in age (some more than 100 years old), we need this funding more than ever. We must renew our commitment to public water, and make sure everyone has access to affordable water service.