Public Water in Private Hands

by Monica Maldonado, Asst. Editor; Civil Engineering, 345 E. 47th Street, NY, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 1, Pg. 49-51

Document Type: Feature article


The nation's water utilities are becoming a battleground for control between private companies that want a share of the market and public employees who are bidding for their own jobs. As any business student will attest, capitalizing on an emerging market requires innovation, specialization and speed, and today's water and wastewater firms are poised to take advantage of the newest opportunity: public water and wastewater utilities. With promises of lower user rates, freed-up municipal funds and modern management methods, engineering firms are swooping in on those municipalities facing aging infrastructures, shrinking budgets and tighter water regulations. The result is that a generation of deteriorating water and wastewater plants are being reborn into pared-down profit-making machines. While private management and consulting of water and wastewater plants has existed for a decade, a few recent transactions between municipalities and private firms are pushing privatization to a new level in the U.S.

Subject Headings: Wastewater management | Municipal water | Water management | Wastewater treatment plants | Utilities | Private sector | Municipal wastewater

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