Before Hearing, Advocates Call for Full Repeal of Predatory Water System Pricing 

Proposed bill package insufficient to protect Pennsylvanians from harm and price gouging

Published Dec 12, 2023


Clean Water

Proposed bill package insufficient to protect Pennsylvanians from harm and price gouging

Proposed bill package insufficient to protect Pennsylvanians from harm and price gouging

Ahead of an Assembly hearing on a bill package that would reform Act 12, advocates and community groups are pushing for more far-reaching solutions to the wave of water privatization that has swept across the state.

Today’s Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee hearing will be focused on Act 12, which allowed inflated water utility purchase prices and opened the floodgates of water and sewer utility privatizations in the commonwealth. Water and sewer bills have increased dramatically as large corporations have acquired dozens of water and sewer systems. Just last month, Pennsylvania American Water proposed another steep rate hike for local residents and businesses. 

Recognizing the harm caused by Act 12, Committee Chair Rep. Rob Matzie, joined by six colleagues, has introduced a package of four bills to reform this legislation. The bill package would make modest tweaks to the process: allowing a longer time for regulatory review, capping the predatory price inflation at 125 percent of the system book value for non-distressed systems, requiring the acquisition costs to be spread over three rate cases, and requiring a public bidding process and at least two public hearings. 

“These bills only allow our legislators to put the real issues with Act 12 on the back burner,” said Peter Mrozinski of Keep Water Affordable.

“It should not fall on the community members of Pennsylvania to continuously invest time, energy and money to fight these takeovers of our public water and sewers systems for corporate gain,” said Ginny Marcille-Kerslake, Pennsylvania Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “We need our state legislators to do their job to protect their constituents from predatory pricing by passing legislation already introduced to fully repeal Act 12.”

Advocates say a full repeal of Act 12 is necessary to prevent additional harm, and point to legislation from Sen. Kane (SB 866 et al.), Rep. John Lawrence (HB 627 et al.), Rep. Christina Sappey (HB 1205), and pending legislation from Rep. Liz Hanbidge as the right solution. 

“Not providing legal clarity is an abdication of duty from the legislature,” said Kofi Osei, founder of Towamencin Neighbors Opposing Privatization Efforts (NOPE). “Act 12 of 2016 was written poorly enough to be taken to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It should be repealed.”

“We, the ratepayers – the voters — are tired of Big Water dominating any legislation involving Act 12. We want to see stronger legislation to protect the ratepayer,” said Margo Ewing Woodacre of Keep Water Affordable

“It appears that the Committee is not considering six other bills on the same subject. Most of them have better ratepayer protections,” said Bill Ferguson of Keep Water Affordable. “The Committee should be considering the whole issue and all the alternatives. This smacks of partisanship. Ratepayers need better protection from Big Water’s appetite to grow their profits — it should be a non-partisan issue.”

More information about Act 12 of 2016 is available from Keep Water Affordable at  

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]