We know when private companies take over our water systems, rates often go up and service often worsens. Now, there’s another danger we’re fighting: officials hiding important information about access to the human right to water in our communities.
A new suit we filed today in New Jersey illustrates why water privatization is a dangerous threat to the most vulnerable communities and is potentially a means to hide the devastating effects of policies like water shutoffs.
What is the lawsuit about?
Public water officials have a duty to keep certain information—like the number of residents who have had their water shutoff for non-payment—accessible to the public. In Camden, we submitted an open records request to the city for this data. But since Camden’s water is now privately managed by New Jersey American Water, the city claimed they didn’t have the information and to contact the water company.
You can imagine how that’s gone: our requests to the company for this information about shutoffs across the state have gone unanswered for more than a year.
“Access to clean, affordable drinking water is a key issue of public health,” said Lena Smith, Senior New Jersey Organizer and Policy Advocate at Food & Water Watch. “New Jersey American Water profits from controlling what should be a public service. If the company is denying water to residents due their inability to pay, this should be a matter of public record.”
Public Water is Under Threat. But We Can Save It.
While we will continue to fight for safe, clean and accessible drinking water for all using any means necessary – including taking it to the courts – you can take action today by urging your congressmember to support the WATER Act, legislation that would fully fund our public water systems and keep them from becoming prey to the advances of Wall Street and private water companies like New Jersey American Water.