Water scarcity is a major problem faced in many places throughout the world. Texas, like many other areas, is lacking the water quantity necessary to sustain the water needs of its habitants.Many Texans helpto conserve water by reducing the amount that is usually consumedin activities such as irrigation and car washing. However, another solution proposed by the public sector is to privatize water. According to Madeline Baer, Assistant Professorof Political Science at San Diego State University, the term water privatization describes a contract or agreement between a public agency and a non-public institution (Baer 144). Supporters of water privatization would argue that water privatization is a good solution to end water scarcity in Texas- in the companies' point of view. Baer mentions, "Water privatization proved to be unpopular policy in much of the developing world when it failed to deliver on promises of improved water access” (Baer 145). Even though water privatization could be good to the consumer, water privatization has a negative side. Texans have to look beyond the benefits supporters usually mention, and look at the disadvantages that water privatization brings to the State. At the end of the day what private companies promise is nothing more than words to please the ears. Water privatization allows this companies to build their own set of rules, meaning that government involvement is limited. The private companies get to decide how much they want to earn back from their investment, so the company sets the prize the consumer has to pay for water Texas should not privatize water because privatization leads to corruption,rate increase, and decrease access to clean water for the poor.
Water privatization, in many cases, leds to corruption. Since the government has a limited involvement in the companies' activities, companies tend to abuse of their power. Baer mentions that“privatization reduces the role of the state, which is the primary responsible party for fulfilling human rights” (Baer 142).Private water companies in other countries have been caught performing acts of corruption. According to Susan Pronk, writer for the Upside Down World News website, “in Bolivia the SEMAPA has gone from one crisis to the next. Since the company was returned to public hands after the Water War of 2000, two general managers have been dismissed for acts of corruption” (Pronk 6). Places in Latin America have gone through the acts of corruption that leads to the unpopularity of water privatization. Countries such as Bolivia with high levels of poverty are driven by corruption, since the people have to do something to bring the breed to the table. Baer mention that many public companies in Latin America were bowing under the weight of corruption, inefficiency, and a lack of funding for public services, which had been drying up since the 1980s" (Baer 144)
Even though Texas is a strong state, there is no way to prevent corruption from happening. Private water companies only see water as a profitable commodity, seeking nothing more than the money of the citizens. According to Robert Glennon, Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy at the Rogers College and a member of the Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, "multinational corporations [are) exploiting the dire economic situation of poor people. Corrupt political regimes, often bribed by these companies, pay no heed to citizens' complaints” (Glennon 1890). While the companies receive a big amount of money, the money goes to their pockets rather than maintaining safe water lines for their clients. Glennon mentions that “if companies own water, they may distribute it unequally, favoring the wealthy who can pay more and politically powerful who can help in other ways” (Glennon 1893).
Water privatization leads to rate increases. According to Nicole Fabricant and Kathryn Hicks, writers for the Radical History Review for the Duke University Press, "the sudden and dramatic rise in prices for this critical resource...sparked intense political organizing. Popular mobilizations in and around Cochabamba began in early November 1999” (Fabricant 135). Private companies invest millions to buy the public sector and maintain its facilities in good shape. However, the private company has to gain back the money invested in the water plant purchased, and the only way to do so is by increasing the price of water. If the private corporation owns the water, the corporation can decide the price for the consumer. Glennon explains the huge costs involved: "a subsidiary of the Bechtel Corporation increased water rates by 35%” (Glennon 1890). Private corporations can supply clean water, but corporations tend to fail at supplying clean water. The reason is evident, the cost of the materials necessary to update the water plans are expensive. Glennon mentions that “to have a corporation put forward the huge amount of capital necessary to update the obsolete and decaying infrastructure of municipal water and sewer systems. By one federal estimate, it will require one trillion dollars over the next 20 years to replace aging sewer pipes and treatment plans” (Glennon 1892).
Of course, that is the reason why private companies increase rate, and prefer to serve the rich and politicians. Water privatization will surely affect the ability of low income families in Texas to afford water services. Many Texans cannot afford to pay more for their water services since the oil companies have been laying off many of their workers. The cleaner the water, the more expensive water becomes to the corporation and the consumer, that is the reason why sometimes companies fail to supply clean water. Glennon mentions, “As for water quality, private companies often resist undertaking expensive monitoring programs for low levels of pollutants. Corporations fear, often reasonably, that it will be difficult to recoup these costs through rate increases” (Glennon 1894).
Third, water privatization leads the poor to be unable to access clean water. According to Sebastian Galiani, contributor for the University of Chicago Press et al, privatization might be obtained at the cost of excluding the poor from access to water services (Galiani et al 84). Since the rates increase, the poor communities are unable to afford clean water. The rate increase leads these families to search for water in other places, such as rivers and lagoons. Water privatization could also cause the poor to be left without water, or be unable the receive the adequate services from their communities. Baer mentions, "Rate hikes, poor water quality, cut offs to poor customers, and lack of transparency plagued numerous contracts in Latin America, Africa and Asia” (Baer 141).
Provided that places in Latin America were affected by their rate hikes, poor water quality, and cut offs to customers. Texans could become vulnerable to the same problems involved in converting a public facility to private. Baer mentions that “inadequate access to water and sanitation is part of the cycle of poverty and underdevelopment that affects the majority of the developing world” (Baer 143). Those that live in poverty will not receive the same services as the rich, and the low income families might opt to consume water from rivers. Water is a human right, and it should be available to everyone in the world. Baer mentions, "The "water justice movement,” a global network of civil society organizations, argues that water is a fundamental human right and a resource that is too scarce and precious to be privately owned and managed” (Baer 145).
Many supporters of privatization may argue that water privatization allows for communities that do not have water to be able to get some clean water. However, at what cost would the people receive water?Clean water does not come cheap for the water corporations, and the poor will not be able to pay for water services that are expensive. Defenders of water privatization might argue that water privatization is the best way to receive clean water, yet there are better options that privatizing. Proponents also contend that water privatization favors everyone, but in this case it does not. Water privatization leads the poor to be unable to afford clean water. Also, water privatization only favors those who have a position within the company and those who are rich and politically involved. Companies might argue that the company is not corrupt, but what stops their workers from becoming corrupt and having preferences over the poor?Once the private companies take control, there is no stopping them. Defenders of water privatization may argue that the company will work with the person's ability to pay, but the companies do not mention water quality and quantity. Supporters will argue that water is not a human right, but rather a commodity in which the company sees a benefit by supplying the consumer with clean water. Water was created by nature, and water cannot be owned by anyone.
To conclude, water privatization is not a viable solution to water scarcity in Texas since it would be too costly to the habitants of the state. Private companies in control of water leads to corruption as seen in many cases in Latin America. Private companies increase rates on water services, since the companies are in charge and the costs are determined by the owner. Water privatization reduces the Government involvement in their affairs, making it impossible for the state to meddle in the company's plans and decisions. Water privatization is unaffordable for low income families, therefore unable to pay for the access to clean water. Water a natural resource should remain owned by nature and not by man.
- Baer, Madeline. "Private Water, Public Good: Water Privatization and State Capacity in Chile." Studies in Comparative International Development. Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 49. April (2014): 141-45. Print.
- Fabricant, Nicole, and Hicks Kathryn. "Bolivia's Next Water War." Radical History Review. Duke University Press.116 (2013): 135. Print.
- Galiani, Sebastian, Paul Gertler, and Ernesto Schargrodsky. “Water for Life: The Impact of the Privatization of Water Services on Child Mortality”. Journal of Political Economy 113.1 (2005): 84. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
- Glennon, Robert. "Water Scarcity, Marketing, And Privatization." Texas Law Review 83 (2005): 1890-94. University of Texas at Austin School of Law Publications. Print.
- Pronk, Susan. "After the Water Wars in Bolivia: The Struggle for a "Social-Public" Alternative." After the Water Wars in Bolivia: The Struggle for a "Social-Public" Alternative. Upside Down World, 29 Apr. 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.