Activists in Pennsylvania Thwart Three Privatization Attempts

By Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Last week, the Mt. Jewett Borough Water Authority Board in Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania announced it would deny requests from two separate private companies, American Water and Aqua America, to purchase its water system.
Food & Water Watch applauds the decision of the Mt. Jewett Borough Water Authority Board to ensure both the integrity of this vital natural resource and its delivery by keeping the Mt. Jewett water system in public control.

Both American Water and Aqua America have track records for exorbitantly high rates and shoddy service delivery. In fact, communities across the country have responded to the sky rocketing bills and poor water quality inflicted by both companies by buying back their water systems and placing them in public hands. The residents of Mt. Jewett have wisely avoided such pitfalls by rejecting the privatization of their water in the first place.

This decision comes on the heels of two other noteworthy water-related victories for Pennsylvanians. The borough of Knox, where in 2007, residents successfully mobilized to prevent the sale of their water to American Water, was recently awarded $4.5 million to replace a sewer line and install a new treatment system. This infusion of funds will help upgrade the wastewater system there and lessen the need to sell its wastewater system to private companies like American Water.

The final victory took place in Somerset County, where a permit filed by an unnamed company to extract 108,000 gallons of water a day from the Laurel Creek watershed was denied by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The creek flows into the Youghiogheny River, which earlier this year was named one of the nation’s ten most endangered rivers this year by the advocacy group American Rivers.

Food & Water Watch thanks these activists and elected officials in Pennsylvania for supporting publically controlled drinking water and wastewater systems and urges communities elsewhere to emulate their excellent work.

For more information, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.