Water Justice Advocates Speak Out on Company’s Long Record of Service Failures
Washington, D.C.—Despite revenues of $46.5 billion in 2010, Veolia Environnement, the world’s largest water and sewer service provider, suffered an 11 percent drop in its water division’s adjusted operating income from the previous year, finds analysis released today by the national consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch. Veolia Environnement: A Profile of the World’s Largest Water Service Corporation shows how public backlash against Veolia’s attempts to dominate the water services market has undermined the company’s revenues.
Providing drinking water service to 95 million customers and wastewater service to 68 million in 66 countries, Veolia has struggled over recent years to maintain its profit levels and realize its privatization vision. From 2005 to 2009, the company’s new contracts with public authorities shrank in duration and scope—the major new deals it signed in 2009 were 97 percent less valuable than those it signed in 2005.
The company has directed over half of its growth activities over the next three years to expand its presence in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, customers across the globe suffer water shortages, skyrocketing rates and irregular billing practices under Veolia Environnement’s service. Some communities, such as Paris, France have ended their relationships with Veolia early, realizing the potential cost savings under public operation.
“In many ways, Paris’s move to reassume public control of its water system from Veolia can be seen as a harbinger of the company’s future problems,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “A year after taking back its water system, the city is projecting $50 million in annual savings. You know things are bad for Veolia when even its hometown has rejected its services.”
These and other issues were highlighted today at a press conference convened by consumer and water justice advocates. Speakers at the event included Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch; Danielle Mitterand, president of the Fondation France Libertés; Anne Le Strat, president of the Eaux de Paris and AquaPublicaEuropea; Jean Luc Touly, regional councilor, member of the National Water Committee, trade unionist of Veolia IDF; and William Bourdon, Président de SHERPA.
“Water management has to separate itself from the commercial sphere, it is a common good and cannot become the oil of the 21st century,” said Jean Luc Touly. “Water as a common good is a source of peace, not profit.”
Veolia Environnement: A Profile of the World’s Largest Water Service Corporation is available here
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.