Trump’s Water Infrastructure Plans in Two Words: Higher Rates


As President Trump promotes his plans to privatize much of our nation’s infrastructure, it’s worth noting that private financing and operation of infrastructure, particularly water, has been shown to be more expensive and less reliable than when these systems are controlled by public entities. According to research from Food & Water Watch, privately owned water systems charge 59% more than publicly owned systems.

Privatizing our nation’s infrastructure is akin to a fire sale. Americans lose when control of critical assets like our water and roads is given over to Big Banks and corporations. Rates increase, while quality decreases and jobs are lost. What we need is a massive federal reinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure, particularly our water.

Poisoned water and rising service bills reflect our federal government’s dwindling support for water infrastructure, which has declined by 82% per capita since 1977. According to one recent study, water service may soon be unaffordable for 35% of Americans. Privatizing our water systems is likely to exacerbate current water challenges, making service less affordable and reliable, while slashing jobs.

In Ohio, large privately-owned drinking water systems charge typical households 72% more than publicly owned ones. In New York and Illinois, large private systems charge about twice as much as their public counterparts. Large private systems in Pennsylvania charge 84% more than public systems, and in New Jersey, large private systems charge 79% more than public ones.

Rural communities face their own set of drinking and wastewater challenges. Rural water systems have high per-capita costs and rely on direct federal support, while many rural households can’t afford to maintain their personal household wells and septic systems, which when failing, can contaminate drinking water supplies.

Rural Americans, many of whom voted Trump into office, will continue to suffer with inadequate water service if the Trump plan moves forward. Trump’s focus on private financing for infrastructure fails to adequately address the unique needs of rural communities, ultimately leaving them high and dry.

Congress should oppose Trump’s privatization vision. Instead, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s infrastructure resolution provides the right vision for a comprehensive overhauling of our nation’s critical infrastructure systems. For the future and safety of our water, Congress should also pass the WATER Act, which would create a reliable, sustainable well of $35 billion a year in public funding for community drinking water and sewer systems while creating up to nearly a million new jobs.

Wenonah Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch ( and author of Foodopoly: The Future of Food and Farming in America ( Phone 202-683-2500.

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2017

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