New website tracks de-privatization of water services
A new website reveals how more and more water services are returning to public management, with news this month that water in the city of Paris -- home to the world's two biggest private sector water companies -- is to be returned to public control. The site (www.remunicipalisation.org) will track the "remunicipalization" of cities, regions and entire countries around the world...
PARIS, June 12, 2008 -- A new website launched today reveals how more and more water services are returning to public management, with news this month that water in the city of Paris -- home to the world's two biggest private sector water companies -- is to be returned to public control .
The site (www.remunicipalisation.org) will track the "remunicipalisation" of cities, regions and entire countries around the world, providing case studies from places which have already returned to public control and information on campaigns in places around the world where private companies are failing to deliver .
In Paris water services will return to public management at the end of 2009 when the contracts with the current operators, the Compagnie des eaux de Paris (Veolia Environnement) and Eau et Force (Suez-Lyonnaise des Eaux) end. The Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë was re-elected in March this year with a mandate to take Paris' water services out of private control.
The Paris mayor's plans for replacing Suez and Veolia with a new public water company to stabilise prices , are part of a wider remunicipalisation trend in France, a country that was until recently known as the heartland of the water privatization with 80% of water supply in private hands.
The remunicipalisation trend will also feature when public water managers, civil society campaigners and trade unionists gather in Zaragoza, Spain, later this month to present alternatives to privatization, at seminars inside and outside the city's Expo event.
Satoko Kishimoto from TNI said: "The trend for remunicipalisation is spreading around the world as communities realise that privatized water services have not delivered. The remunicipalisation tracker highlights the successes and the struggles, and shows that water services can be better managed under public control."
Privatised water services have been heavily promoted by international agencies, including the World Bank, IMF and even the European Union, as a solution to increased investment needs in water services. But evidence from the cases profiled on www.remunicipalisation.org show that privatization has failed in cities around the world.
Poor service, a lack of investment and high water charges have been a common complaint about privatized services from Mali to Montara in the USA.
But the alternatives can bring real improvements to services, communities and even national governments have found. The management models vary -- with active community involvement often replacing more traditional models of management by the state.
Despite the growing wealth of evidence of private sector failings, the European Union still promotes privatized water services in Europe and many developing countries find it difficult to obtain finance for public-run services.
Olivier Hoedeman from Corporate Europe Observatory said: "It is time the EU faced up to facts and reviewed its policy on water. Privatised services might boost company profits, but they are not the most effective way of delivering water services to Europe's citizens nor to the world's poorest".
 The world's two biggest water service multinationals, Suez Lyonnaise and Veolia Environnement are both headquartered in France.
 The Water Remunicipalisation Tracker is a dynamic, work-in-progress project and new cases and updates on existing ones will be added regularly.