To the Editor:
Water. We need it to live. Should we all own this valuable resource, or should private companies own our water? That question will be asked all over this state in the wake of two private companies passing one of the nation’s most substantial water-privatization laws here in Illinois.
Aqua Illinois and Illinois American Water (IAW) succeeded in passing Senate Bill 3051 in the fall of 2018. Aqua and IAW can now crisscross our state offering cash-strapped municipalities top dollar for their systems, all the while the ratepayers of Aqua and Illinois American Water will pay for their expansion.
Since the companies’ legislation went it to affect June 1st of this year, the two companies have already filed for four acquisitions with the Illinois Commerce Commission. Those four acquisitions are scheduled to cost the ratepayers of the two companies $11.35 million, and the companies are likely just getting started. As I write this, their agents are knocking on the doors of Illinois municipalities, dazzling them with big money for water systems that are fully depreciated and in need of investment.
Private Water cites their “compliance with regulatory standards,” yet in University Park, thousands of Aqua’s customers still cannot drink, bathe, or cook with their water. Aqua detected high lead levels, apparently told no one for a year, and now the community has been without water for months. Four Aqua employees have been suspended, and the company is facing fines and violations from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
So much for private water making us safer and our water cleaner, I guess.
There is a bill in Springfield that would allow you a vote before your community could privatize its water and/or sewer system. House Bill 2392, sponsored by Rep. John Connor, would allow a referendum so the current owners of a municipal water system, the people that live in the community, would have a voice in the future of an asset critical to their lives. Please contact your state representative and senator and let them know you support HB 2392.
Director of Governmental Affairs
Citizens Utility Board