The city of Baltimore has voted to ban the privatization of water. Out of over 140,000 eligible voters, roughly 77% supported a proposal that will alter the city’s charter regarding the so-called “inalienability” of both their sewerage and water-supply systems.
Bob Dylan once sang, "The times they are a-changin'," and he wasn't necessarily wrong about that. Although we're pretty confident in saying that preventing cities in the United States to practice water privatization was not something he had ever thought about. But one city has stepped up to make this a thing.
Supporters have said that by banning the privatization of water in Baltimore, it will become the first U.S. jurisdiction to do this. The idea behind this landmark proposal is to keep private corporations from meddling with the city's water supply. No sales of leases can be done with the water system in Baltimore. While this initiative is admittedly not perfect, it's a step in the right direction, according to both lobbyists and experts.
One big reason for this proposal seems to concern the state of Baltimore's water system. It's said to be one of the oldest in existence all across the United States. The fact that their water system infrastructure is aging rapidly has made it a point of interest for private corporations. Decades of deferred maintenance have caused water rates to quadruple since 2000, and privatizing it will most likely make it spike even more. The city wouldn't be able to regain control, and there's the possibility that a private corporation would charge people about 60% more for water use than any public corporation. This figure was found through extensive research by experts in the field.
The proposal seems to continue gaining more support, what with the mayor and city council also signing off on it. Meanwhile, other cities such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have seen what Baltimore is doing. Pittsburgh has responded by holding talks within city council to discuss the matter. It's been reported that most council members are approved to their city's water system becoming privatized, too. If Baltimore is successful, they could very well set a new and beneficial trend that many more cities will want to take up.