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Privatization of Public Water Services: The States' Role in Ensuring Public Accountability
Pepperdine Law Review (2005)
  • Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold
The privatization of public water services in the United States has grown dramatically in recent years in response to political and ideological interest in privatizing public services, arguments about economic efficiencies, and the realities of overwhelming public costs related to water quality standards, infrastructure upgrade needs, and operational complexities. Many states have expressly enacted statutes authorizing municipalities to transfer services, operation and management, and even ownership of public water systems to private firms.
This article systematically evaluates the status of water privatization in the U.S., the legal authority for privatization and its limits, and the most common and significant issues in water privatization. These issues include: 1) the unique characteristics of water services; 2) operational efficiency and capital cost savings; 3) rates; 4) service quality and reliability, and water quality; 5) take-or-pay contracts; 6) long-term capital investment, maintenance, and public agency capacity; 7) environmental protection and impact; 8) global commerce in water; 9) security of water supplies and terrorism; 10) equity; 11) public employees; 12) public opinion; and 13) the limited authority of regional public water institutions.
  • privatization,
  • public water services,
  • water supply,
  • public utilities,
  • regulation,
  • capital costs,
  • Safe Drinking Water Act,
  • environmental protection,
  • public employees,
  • security,
  • take-or-pay contracts,
  • capital investment
Publication Date
Citation Information
Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold. "Privatization of Public Water Services: The States' Role in Ensuring Public Accountability" Pepperdine Law Review Vol. 32 Iss. 3 (2005) p. 561
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