News & Politics

The Moment for a Clean Water Trust Fund Is Now

Don't fall for the hype over 'public-private partnerships.'

Recently in the Huffington Post, Governors Paterson, Schwarzenegger and Rendell called for more public-private partnerships to help improve our crumbling roads, water systems, schools and other public works projects.

Public-private partnership -- What's that? Basically, it's when the public pays a high price for a corporation to do something that local governments should be doing.

For example, if your city needs a new water treatment plant, it could contract with a corporation to design, build and run the plant. Governors Paterson, Schwarzenegger and Rendell want cities and towns to cut more of these deals and make the private partner finance the project.

Sound good? Local governments are struggling because of the economic meltdown, and they need assistance to build important improvement projects and protect public health. These Governors think they've found a simple solution: privatization.

But not so fast. It's not free and easy money. These private players are businesses, and like any business, their ultimate goal is to make money for their owners. They're not going to donate any money. In fact, they're going to charge the public a steep premium for it. In many ways, these public-private partnerships are expensive loans that you will have to pay back through user fees like water bills.

Public operation is a much better deal for taxpayers. It's cheaper and easier. And it doesn't require you to give a private entity control over one of your valuable public resources.

It's true that many government coffers have gone empty in the fallout of the housing bust, but a better solution is a Clean Water Trust Fund, which would help local governments pay for needed water projects and provide safe, clean and affordablewater.

Act now and tell Congress that we need a Clean Water Trust Fund.

More information about how privatization can cost you money, see Food & Water Watch's report Money Down the Drain: How Private Control of Water Wastes Public Resources.

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