Americans are fortunate to have options for how we get the basic necessities of life, like food and shelter and water. It is important that Milwaukee residents have the same opportunities as other communities in deciding how their water is delivered, and that those options are supported by clear and indisputable facts.
To deliver water - a valuable and essential resource of finite quantity and inconsistent quality in its natural state - water utilities employ the latest technology to collect and treat water to ensure it meets state and federal health and environmental standards. They also manage the massive infrastructure that enables high-quality water to be delivered to our homes, schools, and businesses. Public and private utilities provide these services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at a cost to the consumer of less than a penny a gallon.
The private sector has played a proud and important role in the provision of drinking water since the formation of our country. Some activist groups point to a handful of "case studies" to support their claims of service problems by private water service providers.
The facts are that today, nearly 73 million Americans - one of every four people in this country - receive water service from a privately owned water utility or a municipal utility operating under a public-private partnership. Contracts for these partnerships average a 93% renewal rate. Furthermore, the private sector has consistently been at the forefront of the industry when it comes to capital investment in infrastructure and technology, management and innovation.
When utilities lease or sell their water systems to a private company or management company, the company then provides a service, operates the facility, maintains and upgrades the infrastructure, and ensures that water quality standards meet or exceed government mandated regulations.
Further, all water utilities are subject to extensive government oversight. Public officials set water rates, establish and enforce health and environmental regulations, and make long-term water resource allocation decisions. Both public and private water utilities meet these regulations and deliver quality water in an efficient manner.
Check out the water/wastewater chapter in Reason's new Annual Privatization Report for more.