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Water Barons Lose Another One
Massachusetts Community Rejects Privatization Scheme
Corporate proponents of privatizing public water systems suffered yet another blow in September when the town representatives of Lee, Mass., voted overwhelmingly to reject a proposal from Veolia Water to take control of the public water and wastewater system.
Lee town representatives voted 41-10 against granting Veolia a 20-year monopoly contract. The vote came on the heels of dynamic grassroots organizing in the Lee community.
Serious concerns were raised about Veolia's track record in other communities; the company's effort to push the scheme through establishing financial ties with powerful community leaders; doubts that Veolia's promised savings, even if achieved, warranted the risks of privatization; and the reliability of the company's promise that current system employees would be retained and treated fairly.
The Lee vote is not only another example of how profiteering water corporations can be kept at bay by an informed, engaged citizenry. Lee's rejection of privatization also serves as a lesson for other small communities that might be targeted by the big water companies, and is an inspiration to citizens in those communities who know that water should not be ceded to private interests for profit.
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