Charm City Is About to Ban Water Privatization… And There Are A Few Reasons That’s So Cool
Yesterday, the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a resolution setting the city on course to become the first major city in the country to ban the most extreme forms of water privatization. With voter approval this November, Baltimore will be the first city in the country to amend its charter to declare its water and sewer systems are “inalienable,” outlawing the sale and lease of these essential public services.
How did we get here? Baltimore is one city (of many) that is constantly overwhelmed by water justice woes.
People have been dealing with
- Unaffordable water
- Incorrect water bills
- Water shut offs
- Tax sales
- And threats of water privatization
The problems with unaffordable water and the problems with the water billing system have caused trauma on low-income communities and communities of color across the city. People were even losing their homes and churches to erroneous water bills.
Last state legislative session, a proposal to temporarily protect Baltimore homes from being seized and sold over unpaid water bills passed.
Open Door to Privatization
But then – Mayor Catherine Pugh proposed changes to the city charter that could have allowed her administration and future mayors to hand out contracts as they pleased, instead of following competitive bidding best practices.
Water privatization elevates corporate control over the common good, and deepens water affordability problems. In Baltimore, privatization of the water system would spell disaster.
We fought back, along with many Baltimoreans, and won! Mayor Pugh withdrew this plan and temporarily kept the privatization industry at bay in Baltimore.
But to make sure the water industry would not be allowed to take over Baltimore’s water system for the long-run, we need to ban water privatization in the city.
An About Face
In response to the outpouring of opposition against water privatization, Mayor Pugh did an about-face. Her team prepared a resolution that would make the water and sewer systems “inalienable” assets of the city. She withdrew this proposal, along with her other ones, at the end of June. […]