Today, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh signed legislation that would make the water supply and sewer systems “inalienable” assets of Baltimore city. In effect, Mayor Pugh has officially become the first mayor of a major city to sign legislation to ban water privatization. Mayor Pugh first proposed this measure and brought it to the Baltimore City Council. Council President Jack Young ensured that this critical water justice legislation passed through the Council just days before the deadline. The measure will now go to voters for approval on the November ballot.
We applaud this monumental step for water rights in Baltimore. Mayor Pugh and Council President Jack Young provided a blueprint for communities across the nation to keep their water infrastructure in public hands. We urge legislators across the country to follow Baltimore’s lead in championing public water over private profit.
Keeping water public means keeping the needs of community members and the human right to water as a top priority. Proposals to privatize the water system met ardent public opposition in Baltimore for good reasons. Local, public control provides transparent and accountable decision making, which can ensure that water system improvements are equitable, water billing complaints are addressed in a timely and transparent manner, and water bills are affordable for each and every household.
But with privatization off the table, Baltimore can focus on providing the best service at the most affordable cost. Food & Water Watch urges the Baltimore City Council and Mayor to now pass an income-based water affordability program and bill dispute process to improve the public system currently in place.