Monday, March 30, 2009

Milwaukee Water Privatization Initiative Could Prove Costly

I reported on this blog last week - - and I have yet to see followup in the mainstream media - - that Milwaukee's comptroller is advertising for a contractor to take over the management of Milwaukee's Water Works.

There is very readable and accessible expert opinion out there suggesting that such initiatives can prove costly, which is exactly the opposite of the goals of the Milwaukee comptroller.

I also reported on this blog two weeks ago - - and, again, I see nothing in the way of reporting on this by traditional media - - that Waukesha is pursuing $87 million in federal grants and earmarks to finance its eventual diversion of water from Lake Michigan, and perhaps on some additional water projects elsewhere in Waukesha County, and in Milwaukee County, too.

Taken together, these are significant developments involving tens of millions of dollars that could determine the use and cost of water in Southeastern Wisconsin for the next 100 years.

And the direction of economic development throughout the region.

Sunlight, not darkness, is needed from the media about these fundamental issues.


Anonymous said...

Let's give up our publicly owned water works to a private French company who will raise prices and cut jobs. It's only the most important basic need of any community, after all. That's what Milwaukee needs!

I could see if we were going to privatize garbage collection, but not water. It's too precious of a resource to give up control to a for-profit company looking to cut corners to make a profit. I for one feel rather safe knowing the safeguards in place to prevent another Cryptosporidium, and I'd rather have more people there than less. It's maybe the one government department that should not be cut. Cut some firemen for God's sake if you want to curb spending.

markit said...

There are so many uneducated things in this linked article I don't know where to begin.

I work for an engineering company that works with both public and private water utilities. I could care less about who owns them, I care if they are run correctly.

Private companies want to make money -- this is not evil. They make money when they do a good job.

Yes, they make more money when they build more pipes -- and when they encourage people to waste water! You know why they make more money - because the GOVERNMENT tells them that's how they can raise their rates! It is a REGULATED industry even when it is in private hands. If you told a water company - "we will let you raise your rates if you encourage people to conserve water" then they would do that! They don't set the rates, the government does.

Why is infrastructure falling apart? Because it is run not like a business, it is run like a public agency.

1. Charge your customers less than it costs you to deliver your service.
2. Now you have no money to make required repairs, so you let it fall apart and hope someone comes to bail you out.
3. Because you didn't maintain things correctly, it now costs more to replace the system than if you had maintained it.

Private companies are PUSHING desalination to make money? We need desalination because we are RUNNING OUT OF WATER in Florida and California and Texas.

A private company performs a service. If the government hires them, they government can tell them exactly how they need to run the business, and if they fail, they can take it back.

You should only need to have the Federal Gov't come in if you are dealing with cross-state issues like pollution or Federal Highways. Water utilities are 100% local businesses that should charge enough to pay for themselves. Why should the whole country bail out a crappy utility in Omaha if it is falling apart?

There is such knee jerk reaction to privatization.

Anonymous said...

Comptroller floats idea of privatizing Milwaukee water utility

Posted: Oct. 2, 2008