Water privatization has been high on the globalizers’ agenda for the last decade. But privatizers haven’t all found it easy to get their way. Vibrant campaigns by residents, trade unionists and environmental activists have been so successful – and privatization experiments so disastrous – that a push towards the de-privatization of water services is gathering a head of steam. A new website – www.remunicipalisation.org – highlights and celebrates the growing trend of returning failing privately managed water services to public management, which is manifesting itself in parts of South America, North America and Africa.
It’s even happening in France, which is arguably the heartland of privatized water services: the Mayor of Paris recently announced that the city would be returning services to public management from 2009. Increased tariffs and a failure to deliver on promised improvements have meant that political support for water transnationals is drying up. Instead, re-municipalization is leading to innovative reforms, including more involvement by citizens in the running of their water services. This has been the case in Uruguay and also in Argentina, where a worker-run company now provides the water for Buenos Aires.