The November 3rd ruling by a California judge that the city of Stockton illegally privatized its water and sewer operations is an enormous victory. In dealings that have been typical of water privatization contracts, back room negotiations gave OMI-Thames, owned by Cal-Am, a 20-year, $600 million contract without the proper public scrutiny or environmental reviews. With the company legally ordered to return control to the city, the Stockton City Council elected yesterday has an unprecedented opportunity to start fresh and develop a plan for local control of water incorporated public input in a transparent process.
In March 2003 Stockton voters passed a popular measure, which allows the public to vote on all future contracts to privatize Stockton‚ water utilities. If the council now reconsiders private involvement, it has to seek voter approval.Food & Water Watch congratulates Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton for its continued effort to press for accountability in Stockton’s contract with the company.
We’ve learned from experiences like Stockton and Lexington, that once water has been privatized, it is very hard to restore public control. Water is a public responsibility and must be managed in the public trust. Supporters of public water resources take these lessons forward as they continue efforts to retain or restore local control in Felton, CA, Larkfield, CA, Chattanooga, TN, and as Stockton, CA starts again.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.