Sunday, February 05, 2012

Don't Let Them Grab Your Water

The push to "privatize" all government services, from education to mental health, is currently the wet-dream of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), for which most of our Republican lawmakers in Raleigh are complete toadies and willing tools. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis accepted an award from ALEC, and many others attend their conferences and copy their "model" bills on everything from voter photo ID to removing environmental restrictions on polluting businesses and opening the landscape to "fracking."

Here's news for you: ALEC wants our water, and they're starting with Asheville.

Take a natural resource owned by all the citizens, put it in private hands, and let those private interests control and sell that natural resource back to the citizens. At a profit, not in the spirit of public service. That's the ALEC plan in a nutshell. Opposed to that is municipal ownership where, indeed, water is sold, but it's sold at a minimal rate to pay for the system of delivery, not for profit.

I'm not about to wade into the whole history of Asheville's water supply and its unique legal relationship to the County of Buncombe, because it practically takes an advanced degree in Byzantine historiography to understand it all, but what is quite clear -- crystalline, in fact -- is current Republican lawmaker Tim Moffitt's maneuvering to privatize Asheville's water.

Tim Moffitt (R)
Last May, Rep. Moffitt introduced a bill in the General Assembly to simply seize Asheville's water system and turn it over to another authority more to Moffitt's liking. After months of controversy, Moffitt changed his bill to form a "study committee" in the legislature, which is currently studying the holy hell out of how best to seize Asheville's water and turn it over to a for-profit system, after which study one presumes Mr. Moffitt will introduce some form of his original proposal. "You got lottsa water. Give it, give it now!"

The corporate grab of America's water is already happening. This ain't no false alarm. Water is essential to life. When a private, for-profit corporation gets control of an essential element to life, you'd best watch your back. And what's next...? The corporate ownership of air?

Save Asheville's Water is currently massing resources for understanding what's happening and what's at stake, along with a good deal of that ancient, Byzantine history.


Judith said...

This is precisely the reason I was supportive of the Town of Boone going for water--to keep it a PUBLIC utility as opposed to in the hands of a private entity that would grab our natural resource, control it and sell it back to us. At least with government we have a voice in what happens to our community water. Thanks so much for covering this. It is a HUGE issue that just isn't being picked up by mainstream media.

Katie H. said...

WataugaWatch folks - interesting piece! Clean Water for North Carolina is a statewide nonprofit that has been looking into water privatization that's already happening - very quietly - in NC and the impacts it's having on residents. It continues to be one of our major concerns and campaign areas. You can read more about the form water privatization is currently taking in NC in our 2011 report "Privatizing NC's Water, Undermining Justice". I know there are some water systems owned by "poster bad boy" Aqua NC in your neck of the woods, including Roaring Gap. Thanks for helping spread the word - as Judith said, the mainstream media isn't picking up on this...yet!