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by Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, 6 June 2008

Washington, DC. Corporate water barons are on the run everywhere. In a fitting round of justice, French water giants Veolia and Suez are getting kicked out of the their own capital city. The Paris city council announced in early June that the city’s water system would revert to 100 percent public control at the end of 2009. The aim is to keep water prices in the city stable.

“The chickens are coming home to roost for Veolia and Suez,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It’s clear that these two water giants are having the same trouble providing safe and affordable water at home, as they are across the pond in the United States. We want mayors and other decision makers to know that the privatization experiment in France is failing and they should not believe the water corporation’s spin.”

The subsidiaries of these companies have had numerous problems. For instance, Veolia contracted to provide water service to more than 1 million people in Indianapolis in 2002. But just three years later, news emerged that Veolia’s local subsidiary had cut back on employees, water testing and maintenance. Some even alleged that the corporation cooked the books in order to collect financial incentives. In 2003 the city of Atlanta, Georgia ended its contract with Suez subsidiary United Water 16 years early because of staff cuts, delayed repairs and corruption.

“This decision in Paris illustrates that communities suffering from the effects of corporate water privatization can fight back to take control of their water infrastructures,” said Hauter.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer rights organization that challenges the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources. Visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

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