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 and privatization of water in all forms. We support managing water supplies as a public trust, improving our public water systems and making water service safe and affordable for all.
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 service.
Corporate Control of Water Systems
Water corporations, like Veolia or Suez, are seeking to profit off of managing local systems that provide our drinking water and sewer services. Wall Street investors are working with these companies to take advantage of cash-strapped local governments and entice them into selling or leasing off their water assets.
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 letting corporations exploit our water problems for profit, we believe our federal government should provide the support our water systems need so that everyone in United States 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.
We must manage our water as a common resource, not a profit center, and we must provide tap water as public service, not a business.