Water is an important issue now and as we go forward into the 21st Century it will become an even greater issue. Water is a local issue, a state issue, a national issue and a problem that the entire world faces.
Water is a basic necessity, in fact, you can’t get more basic than the need for water. You need water to drink and to water the crops that we grow so that we can feed our fellow citizens. It needs to be clean and portable. Today, I wish to speak to just one part of the overall issue of water and that is the privatization of water.
Back in the day when President Roosevelt became President of the United States, electricity and the ability of the every day citizen to have electricity was not a common thing. Monopolies controlled the situation and electricity was just too costly for most Americans. Roosevelt believed that electricity was something that was a basic necessity and that all Americans should be able to afford electricity. He had dams built and the TVA helped to provide electricity to millions of people. He had a plan and now we need to have a plan regarding water.
Water and riparian rights have been a contentious issue for centuries. Now we can see the effects of the ever-increasing cost of water due to the privatization of water rights. Companies have been buying water rights and companies have discovered that there is a lot of money that can be made by controlling the price of water through monopolies. These companies are more motivated by how much money they can make instead of the idea of providing a service to their respective communities.
California is a good example of the myriad amount of problems that have resulted due to the idea of making money on selling water to the public. Community after community is seeking to buy their water back.
Just to give you an example, there is a company that provides water for the Claremont, California area. Every two years the company seeks an increase in the water rates by around 42%. The PUC, reduces the amount of the increase but they have never seen an increase that they have not liked. After 10 years the increase in the cost of water has amounted to real money. It has become a real hardship to people, especially to those on a fixed income.
The PUC allows up to a 8.9% profit per year for a water company. Just to give you an example of how ridiculous it can be, the local water company on one hand encourages the consumer to reduce their water usage. If you are successful in reducing and conserving water, the consumer is rewarded with a surcharge. Yes, you are rewarded with an extra charge on your water bill if you have saved on your water usage. The rationale the company gives is that they have made less money and thereby they deserve to have a surcharge to make up for the money they have lost. This is just wrong!
You would think that the PUC, and P stands for Public, would have the interests of the consumer at heart, but alas, no , that is not the case. Members of the PUC commission are appointed, it is an appointed position, and it is sometimes filled with people who are aligned with people who sympathize with the company more than the public. The California PUC was headed for a while by the former head of Southern California Edison. It is doubtful that the commission has ever seen a rate increase that they did not like.
Water companies have a monopoly and the PUC’s are not an elected position. Politicians should not govern who sets your water rates by giving out appointments to people they owe favors to. A company can and does give the same excuse for a water rate increase. The system needs maintenance is often the excuse, but at a 42% rate? Who checks these numbers and whose numbers are they using?
The point is that water is a basic necessity, and how much money can be made on water is the problem. We the people, should never have to decide between what food one can afford to purchase and whether you can afford to use water. Food and water are the most basic of life’s necessities. What come first, fulfilling the needs of the public or how much profit can be made in being able to monopolize who owns your water?