"In 2015, a strident editorial appeared in Global Water Intelligence, a
trade magazine for the water industry, under the title: Exorcising the
“R” word. “It would be a travesty,” the writer declared, to let “the
ill-informed propaganda of a few NGOs” interfere with private sector
involvement in the water business.
The unspeakable “R” word that had provoked such a defensive stance?
Remunicipalisation: the taking back of privatised assets and services
into public ownership at a local level.
This dangerous idea, the Global Water Intelligence piece said, would be
“unlikely to be taken seriously by intelligent decision-makers in the
industry”, because of all the “valid and rational arguments behind
private sector participation” in providing water.
What the article did not say, but was implicit in its attack, was that
water ownership is a battle the private sector seems to have been
losing. Since 2000 there have been at least 110 cases of
remunicipalisation in the water and sanitation sector in France alone.
In 2008, the capital reclaimed its water from the private sector –
saving €35m in its first year, reducing tariffs by 8%, reinvesting
profits into maintenance rather than paying them out to shareholders,
and increasing free access to water and sanitation for the residents of
The agency, Eau de Paris, even installed free fountains providing
sparkling water – a comically French idea, perhaps, but cheap, and good
for the environment, preventing thousands of plastic bottles from
heading to landfill sites. It also illustrated an important point: when
our urban infrastructure is owned by the public rather than
profit-making corporations, everyone – not just shareholders – can have
Via Sheila Nagig.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics