Don’t privatize water-treatment plants

08/09/2014 7:00 PM

08/08/2014 3:52 PM

Re the Aug. 3 letter Improving Miami-Dade’s water system, by Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department Director Bill Johnson: Public-private partnerships could mean lower water quality and service with higher rates. It is disappointing that Johnson praises the use of public-private partnerships.

Such deals are a form of privatization and transfer operating power from local governments to large corporations that hold no vested interest in the community.

Privatizing Miami-Dade’s water and sewer treatment plants could be detrimental to both the local economy and the residents who depend on the water department to provide safe, clean and affordable service.

Research on public-private partnerships shows that water service often suffers under private management. A private operator might cut corners to pad its bottom line through the use of lower-quality materials and the downsizing of employees, resulting in slowed maintenance response times and worse customer service. Customers of privatized systems across the country complain of poor quality water, astronomical rates and unaccountable management structures that are not responsive to these problems.

Private financing through public-private partnerships typically is 1.5 times to 2.5 times as expensive as public borrowing on the municipal bond market. These extra costs are passed on to municipalities when contract terms are negotiated and, ultimately, to residents and local businesses as higher water rates.

Miami-Dade County’s Water & Sewer Department should not privatize the water and sewer treatment plants.

Vickie Machado, Florida organizer,

Food & Water Watch,

Fort Lauderdale

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