Providence City Councilors Rachel Miller, Seth Yurdin, and Katherine Kerwin introduced a resolution opposing the plans to privatize Providence Water and opposing the proposed state enabling legislation (House Bill 5390).
“It’s not credible that the City of Providence will somehow receive hundreds of millions of dollars today without residents, rate-payers and employees bearing the cost for future decades through higher rates, lower wages and potential water quality issues,” said Yurdin. “It’s a false choice to pit our water supply against the city’s fiscal health. No one disagrees that the city faces long-term financial challenges, but the water-transfer scheme is yet another one-time fix with serious long-term costs to our community,” Yurdin continued.
“To consider removing control of our water from the public hand’s in 2019, when access to affordable, quality water is a global risk, is a short-sighted proposal,” Miller said. “What we know from communities across the country, is that when private entities manage public resources like water, rates go up, quality goes down, worker protections are eroded, and the environment is threatened,” she added.
“Water monetization is being presented as the only option in a financial crisis,” Councilwoman Kerwin said. “But, our city spending priorities don’t align with the idea that we are in crisis. There are options we have not yet taken, and after hearing from countless members from my community, I feel selling water, one of our most precious assets at the expense of raising water rates, should be our last resort.”
The resolution was crafted in partnership with the Land and Water Sovereignty Campaign, a group led by Black, Indigenous, people of color, and environmental advocates. They shared the following joint statement:
“Water is an inalienable human right and shouldn’t be commodified. Monetization /privatization would negatively impact our most vulnerable communities and our environment. Over 600 cities and towns have already suffered the negative effects of monetization/ privatization. We oppose Mayor Elorza’s House Bill H5390, and we call for a moratorium of all negotiations and actions leading to monetization/privatization.”