Unconstitutional? New Jersey to privatize water without public say

Fact checked

“A bill that would allow New Jersey municipalities to sell their public water utilities to private, for-profit corporations without putting the measure to voters is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.

Many New Jersey municipalities have turned to privatization as a way to get quick cash infusions for their deteriorating water systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the state would need $41 billion over the next 20 years to repair its water, stormwater and wastewater systems.

About 300 of New Jersey’s municipalities, accounting for about 45 percent of the state’s population, have privately run water systems, according to the New Jersey Utilities Association, a trade group. In November voters in Camden approved the sale of their water system to New Jersey American Water, a subsidiary of American Water, one of the largest private water companies in the U.S. The state far outpaces the U.S. in water privatization; overall, only 13 percent of Americans are served by private systems.

Nationwide, the privatization of water system is significantly more controversial. According to Food and Water Watch, the number of privately owned systems decreased 16 percent from 2007 to 2011, a reflection of some municipalities taking back control of their water systems.”