Berlin has become Blue Community - a very special World Water Day

Today, by resolution of the House of Representatives, Berlin became a “Blue Community” on the occasion of World Water Day 2018.

The State of Berlin thus commits to truly implement the human right to water and basic sanitation within the city, and thus to make drinking water fountains and toilets extensively available free of charge in public areas. Additional principles include maintaining the water supply as a public good, protecting Berlin’s rivers, canals and lakes, cultivating international partnerships and promoting the use of tap water instead of bottled water. The last of these points is especially appropriate for projects in schools and universities, which is why the Senate specifically highlighted educational work in the field of water in its resolution. Such work ranges from explaining the quality of our tap water compared to many bottled waters (which, tests have shown, are of inferior quality), includes the avoidance of plastic waste and extends through to explaining the water footprint, particularly with respect to water in many of the foods and goods that we import from countries of the South.

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Declaration of organizations and movements for the co-operative management of the Thessaloniki water by citizens

 

Citizens of Thessaloniki,

now that the processes of water privatization (EYATH, EYDAP) are moving again,
now that it was clearly perceived the illusion that the assignment of our affairs to third parties (parties, governments and all kinds of power) can provide solutions for the benefit of citizens,
now it's time for us all to realize that if we do not get the citizens themselves the management of the water in our hands, no one will save us!

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After 25 years the water management in Rostock returns into public hands

In Rostock, the largest city in the north German state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the municipal company Nordwasser GmbH will take over the water supply and wastewater disposal for Rostock and 28 surrounding communities from 1 July 2018. This means that after 25 years the Rostock water management returns from a public-private operator model into the hands of the local authorities.

The municipal company Nordwasser GmbH replaces the long-standing private operator EURAWASSER Nord GmbH.

Nordwasser GmbH was founded in spring 2015 after the decision of the Hanseatic city of Rostock not to extend the operating agreement with EURAWASSER Nord, which expires in mid-2018. The private company EURAWASSER Nord is belonging to the multinational REMONDIS Group.

According to Christa Hecht (Allianz der Öffentlichen Wasserwirtschaft) in the book Our public water future, "The municipalities have decried the lack of transparency and their inability to influence the private operator. Compared to other cities, prices are roughly 20 per cent higher, but this does not translate into higher quality".

Press release of Nordwasser GmbH

The rising tide for the democratic control of water in Barcelona

Barcelona’s battle to take its water company back under public ownership is reaching its climax in the courts and at the ballot box.

When the citizen platform, Barcelona En Comú, crowdsourced its manifesto for the Barcelona city elections in 2015, its most popular proposal was to remunicipalize the city’s water company, Agbar (subsidiary of the multinational, Suez Environnement).

Three years on, the government is locked in a struggle for remunicipalization that epitomizes the concerns of the new municipalist movement: protecting the commons, challenging corruption, and harnessing the symbiotic relationship between institutional and non-institutional politics.

The motives for remunicipalization are numerous: a global study by the Transnational Institute in 2015 concluded that towns and cities that remunicipalize their water tend to enjoy increased quality and lower tariffs for consumers. Barcelona is no different; the water rights platform Aigua és Vida estimates that water rates set by Agbar-Suez in Barcelona are 91.7% more expensive than those in neighbouring municipalities that manage their water publicly. This is particularly important in the Spanish context, where 17% of the population suffers from “energy poverty”, meaning that they face hardship in paying their electricity, gas or water bills. In Barcelona, where 10 information points have been set up since 2015 to advise citizens on their energy rights, over 170,000 people have been found to be suffering from this specific kind of poverty.

Economic arguments aside, remunicipalization is also motivated by an understanding of water as a human right and an essential element of ecological sustainability. According to these principles, water should be governed as a commons, that is, owned and managed collectively and democratically by communities, rather than run for profit.

Read more on the website of OpenDemocracy

Turin: The long march towards water remunicipalisation

On 9 October 2017, the Turin City Council turned back privatisation and took another step towards the remunicipalisation of its metropolitan water system. And so the city entered the next phase of its long march towards water sovereignty, begun in the aftermath of the Second World War on the ruins of a town half-destroyed by allied bombing and by Nazi/Fascist retaliations against the democratic popular resistance.

A performing and profitable public water system (1945-1990)

In 1945, a large part of the Turin's civic aqueduct had to be reconstructed. Today, some of the water pipelines dating back to that period are still in operation. From 1945 to 1990, the Turin Water Service was directly owned and operated by a department of the Turin municipality. During this long period, water and sewage systems were implemented and modernised to keep pace with the growth of the city from 700,000 to 1.2 million inhabitants. The first Italian sewage treatment plant was also created during this time to serve Turin and its Metropolitan Area; it remains the most advanced and efficient plant in the country. Of course, the highly performing, profitable and publicly managed water system of Turin was highly coveted by private companies. They lobbied national governments (both centre-right and left) and gradually obtained laws and regulations supporting the privatisation of national and local public services.

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