Baltimore makes history by banning water privatization

The city of Baltimore voted overwhelmingly last week to ban the privatization of its water and sewerage systems, making it the first large U.S. city to prevent private water companies from taking over this crucial municipal system.

While 6 November received much attention due to the US midterm elections, voters around the country were also asked to go to the ballots on a wide range of issues, one of which was water privatization in Baltimore.

According to an article by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, some 77 per cent of more than 148,000 voters backed a proposal to ban private water companies from taking over management of the city’s sewerage and water supply systems. The proposal’s supporters said that this is the first large US city to take such a step.

The measure “sends a strong message to private corporations”, Rianna Eckel, Maryland state organiser for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group that promoted the ballot initiative, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It prohibits any asset sales or leases of the system,” she added. “It’s not a sure-fire trick to prevent any privatisation ever, but it prohibits the most dangerous efforts.” Eckel also said that private water utilities tend to charge almost 60 per cent more than their public counterparts.

Other cities are interested in Baltimore’s ban, which has already been signed off by the mayor and city council following last week’s vote.

Image credit: chuttersnap via Unsplash

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