Reader Dan sends a second post on water rights.
A good history of public/private interactions is found here . The conclusion posits it is not strictly market ideology that drove markets but change in technology, changing societal expectations and the like.
Karen Bakker has research on privatization that has focused on England and Wales, where water supply companies were privatized by flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 1989. Just over a decade after privatization, two water supply companies proposed that they be returned to public ownership. Also here.
More recently, Bakker has href=”.(2005) ‘Neoliberalizing nature? Market environmentalism in water suppy in England and Wales’ Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 95(3), 542 – 565”>argued that the water supply industry has been substantially re-regulated, due in part to the failure to convert water supply into an economic good. She speaks to general debates about the economic identity of water.
In regards to Canada, Bakker says to use a public stance with modifications.
Several ideas stood out:
The need for intense capitalization for upgrade and repair could not be done to meet rather severe leakage problems and still satisfy shareholder demand for profit. I realize there are other issues. It was intensive capital need in a basically stagnant market, in that it was a supply of networks or archipelagoes rather than profit from water as a commodity through increased use. The only way to raise enough capital was through increased prices in the UK.
The simple private versus public arguments were not adequate to account for the variability of jurisdictional problems, public health, shareholder versus customer needs, and the fact that water is an intensely local resource and hard to transport compared to other resources.
The cancellation of service for non-payment engendered an increasing concern over public health and social welfare issue costs, so needed a way to account for public health and public good, which was adaptable.
In the global market water rights need fixing before establishing markets, as noted before in comments.