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Symposium emphasizes public water delivery
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BY JUDITH JOFFE-BLOCK/THE HERALD MEXICO
March 16, 2006
The merits of public control of water delivery over private sector
involvement were emphasized at an all-day symposium Wednesday where
participants voiced their concerns regarding the thrust of this week´s
World Water Forum in Mexico City.
The symposium - titled "Public Water for All" - was the inaugural event
of the International Forum in the Defense of Water, the alternative
conference running parallel to the forum.
The idea for the symposium was born out of the fact the previous World
Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan, in 2003 failed to address public water
delivery, said event organizer, Olivier Hoedeman, of the Amsterdam-based
Corporate European Observatory.
"There was hardly any attention paid to public water experiences, public
delivery or even reforms to make (public control) operate more
effectively," he said.
"(Instead), the focus was ... on how to expand the role of the private
Hoedeman insisted the reality of the world is that 90 percent of water
is delivered by public utilities and there are numerous examples of
improvements made in water delivery without the involvement of the
The idea of the alternative conference is to encourage examination of
these success stories by public officials at the forum.
Wednesday´s event at Mexico City´s Centro Médico included panelists from
Asia, Europe and Latin America discussing how to achieve successful
public water delivery and avoid privatization.
The mayor of a small town in France offered a dramatic success story.
Michel Partage, the mayor of Varages, said water delivery in his
municipality had been problematic in the hands of a private corporation.
Four years ago, the municipality decided not to renew the contract.
Now, water is back in public control and, Partage insists, it tastes
much better because the private company had been over-chlorinating the
Partage is now working to promote a return of public water delivery
throughout France and across the rest of the world.
"Only with solidarity can we take on these powerful multinational
corporations," he said.
The event also featured the release of the Spanish-language edition of
the book, "Reclaiming Public Water - Achievements, Struggles and Visions
from Around the World."
The multi-authored volume offers global case studies of alternatives to
both privatization and ineffective public water utilities.
The book is published by the Corporate European Observatory and the
Transnational Institute, both of whom were involved in planning
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