Buy Me a River: Water Privatization Pushes Forward

Efforts to privatize water services throughout the world are facing determined grassroots opposition on several fronts, while other countries are preparing to sell their water supply to private companies with little resistance. Fourteen activists in El Salvador have been arrested on charges of terrorism for demonstrating against a World Bank-backed plan to hand government water management over to private firms through local concessions for up to 50 years. Activists argue that the state-run water service, mired as it is in corruption and bribery scandals, is the best alternative to layoffs and higher rates that would come with privatization. They have already seen the alternative, having fought for the state to take over water services after a private firm simply stopped providing a local community with running water. In southern Chile, activists are worried about the future of Patagonia’s waterways after the government approved a $4 billion hydroelectric dam project, backed by two corporations, that would flood wilderness and cut down protected forest land.