Posted 23 September 2011, by Rich Bindell, Food & Water Watch, foodandwaterwatch.org
Food & Water Watch helped achieve a major victory against water privatization in Illinois last month. Midwest Region Organizer Emily Carroll, state legislators (including Emily McAsey, the co-sponsor of the bill in the IL House of Representatives), and water advocates, pushed hard for legislation that will allow multiple communities sharing a drinking water or sewer system to take back their system from water corporations/private utilities. This legislation was inspired by six municipalities in Will County, served by a system that is owned by Illinois American Water. Five of the six municipalities, tired of skyrocketing water rates and poor water service, wanted to re-municipalize, but Illinois American Water repeatedly refused to sell it back to the public.
Passing this bill was no easy task, but over 1,000 Food & Water Watch activists e-mailed their state representatives, coordinated calls to the Governor’s office and helped deliver almost 2,000 petitions to garner support of the bill.
Normally, it can be very difficult to take back control of a water system once it has been privatized, particularly if multiple municipalities are served by the same system. However, thanks to this new legislation, these communities can form a water agency and, using eminent domain, take back their water system to ensure public ownership and operation. This bill sets a strong precedent for other communities who also wish to take back their water system from a private entity. We congratulate Emily, our volunteers, and the communities of Will County, Illinois for being diligent in their fight against water privatization!
Related: Water Privatization