Privatization of Water Debate

483 words | 2 page(s)

Should We Support Privatization of Water Supply Systems?

Arguments For Privatization:
Water privatization can save lives in developing nations, because private companies can be much better than government bodies in having people liked to water mains. Private companies can be more effective in water distribution, provide water of higher quality, and deliver water within convenient distances (i.e. improved outreach). They, however, need to be properly supervised (examples include Gabon, Guinea, Chile, Argentina, the Philippines, and Cambodia) (Segerfeldt, 2005).
Water allocation, distribution, and preservation will be managed within one managerial system as markets and private property start to be used as a water management tool (Dellapenna, 2005).
Since water is an essential commodity for living, it is not enough to think about it ideologically, but rather consider what works. Privatization can be a solution to providing access to water for more people (Balen, 2006).
Privatization can solve the problem of water proper collection, cleaning, and storage prior to use; the costs are huge, especially for sewage and treating waste water (Balen, 2006).
If proper contracts are signed, the government may get money from water rates (Balen, 2006).Besides, bureaucracy will decrease.
Competition among companies will foster quality, while price caps will regulate the affordability of water (Balen, 2006). More water can be delivered to citizens because private companies will reduce spillage.

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Arguments Against Privatization:
Water is a public good. Water, in its natural and raw condition, has the properties of indivisibility and publicness. It means that water cannot be divided between consumers and that it is shared in a free manner. Also, water is absolutely essential to life, which means we all must receive a fair share of it as a resource (Dellapenna, 2005).
Private property systems fail for water resources. Legally, under the law of appropriative rights and area-of-origin statutes may interfere or even prevent market transactions; protection of third-party rights would lead to freezing of existing patterns of use once water starts to be treated as private property (Dellapenna, 2005).
Privatization increases prices and can make water unaffordable for ordinary people. Besides, the access may be limited as the owner may decide it is too costly to extend the network (Segerfeldt, 2005).
Water is a human right, so its distribution should be carried out in a democratic manner (Segerfeldt, 2005).
Water has political and spiritual significance; people feel that they are dispossessed of the natural environmental good. This is because water is a nonsubstitutable resource, which is necessary for public health (Bakker, 2013).
Water privatization leads to public unrest. In the 1990s, there was a wave of popular protests triggered by water privatization concern (Bakker, 2013).

  • Bakker, K. (2013). Neoliberal versus postneoliberal water: Geographies of privatization and
    resistance. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103 (2), 253-260.
  • Balen, M. (2006). Water for life. London: Globalization Institute.
  • Dellapenna, J. (2005). Markets for water: Time to put the myth to rest? Journal of Contemporary
    Water Research and Education, 131, 33-41
  • Segerfeldt, F. (2005). Private water saves lives. Financial Times, August 25, 2005, 11.

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