Paris – The so-called “French Model” of private water management has not only failed in France, but in the United States as well, according to consumer advocacy group Food & Water Europe. In conjunction with the world premiere of the documentary film Water Makes Money, the group today released a report on the numerous failures and service problems of Veolia Environnement on United States communities and consumers.
“Veolia’s U.S. track record is abysmal,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe. “Nevertheless, the daunting fiscal crisis is making U.S. communities vulnerable to Veolia’s efforts to expand their business. It’s important communities have the facts before their water systems are targeted.”
The report looks at 10 cities that have experienced serious problems after contracting with the company, including:
- Indianapolis: In 2002 Veolia (then USFilter) signed a 20-year, $1.5 billion contract to provide water service to more than 1 million people in and around Indianapolis. Consumer complaints more than doubled in the first 10 months of the contract. Customers seeking class-action status sued the company and the city, claiming the company overcharged them. The case was pending as of August 2010.
- New Orleans: An electrical fire at one treatment plant caused operators to divert raw sewage into the Mississippi River for two hours. During 2001 and 2002, the plant released sewage into the river a total of 50 times, often violating water quality standards and resulting in more than $107,000 in fines. Between December 2000 and April 2003, the Sewerage and Water Board withheld $2.5 million in payments from the company to penalize it for its poor performance. The board’s director accused the company of neglecting routine maintenance and failing to properly staff the plant.
- Puerto Rico: In 2002, Puerto Rico decided against renewing a $145 million annual contract with a subsidiary of Veolia (then Vivendi), which had operated the water and sewer systems since 1995. A government commission found the company had raked up $695 million in operational losses, $6.2 million in fines, and more than 3,000 operational, maintenance and administrative deficiencies.
“Numerous problems experienced by communities including poor maintenance and rising bills illustrate why the movement to stop the privatization of water is gaining momentum around the world. Governments everywhere need to take responsibility for the delivery of this essential resource to ensure that it is safe, plentiful and affordable for all,” noted Hauter.
To read a report on Suez Environnement: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/report/united-water/
Food & Water Europe is the European program of Food and Water Watch, Inc (a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, DC), working to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
Contact: Gabriella Zanzanaini, Food and Water Europe, Brussels – [email protected], +32488409662