Aqua America is the second largest publicly traded water and wastewater corporation based in the United States. It has pushed its way to the top through a strategy of aggressive acquisitions and drastic rate increases. Aiming to make several dozen acquisitions a year, the company targets smaller systems to avoid a citizenry armed with resources to fight the takeover. And it pursues systems in states that have fast growing populations, corporate friendly regulatory environments and considerable investment needs.
Of course, all of this is done with an eye toward its bottom line.
Not long after taking over a system, the company begins its almost continual process of increasing rates. In just the first nine months of 2007, the company increased rates in nine locations. It has nine additional rate increases pending and plans even more over the course of 2008.
While families see skyrocketing water bills, the company sees booming revenue growth: 13 percent in 2007 alone. But rather than reinvesting all the money from community bills into improving their water and sewer systems, as a public utility would do – the company is delivering solid returns to its shareholders.”
Discontent is growing among its customers, and many communities are beginning to speak up. In some cases, they even are kicking out Aqua America and reclaiming public control over their vital water and sewer infrastructure.
Aqua America is failing to protect the public interest. Instead of private control of their water systems, communities need a national trust fund for clean and safe water. Federal support for public utilities will do what Aqua America has not done: A trust fund will help ensure families across the country have access to clean, safe and affordable water.