Privatisation of Water – A Danger To Us All

Posted on February 22, 2024

In the seemingly mundane flow of daily life, one critical element often goes unnoticed – water. Think about it for a second. It’s the essence of life itself, an indispensable resource that we rely on for drinking, sanitation, and sustenance. In the United Kingdom, almost unbelievably, this precious commodity has been subjected to an awful experiment – privatisation. While proponents of privatisation argued for efficiency and innovation, the reality paints a miserable and dangerous picture. Privatised water in the UK is not just a flawed system; it’s a huge threat to public health and environmental sustainability.

The story of water privatisation in the UK dates back to the late 1980s when Margaret Thatcher’s government initiated a wave of privatisations, including water utilities. How she got away with it, I just don’t know. Since then, private companies have had complete control over water supply and distribution across the Britain. This ludicrous shift from public to private ownership has ushered in a multitude of problems, each more disturbing than the last.

Higher Bills and Public Safety

First and foremost, privatisation has led to skyrocketing water bills. While champions of privatisation (crooks) argued that competition would drive prices down, the opposite has occurred. In fact, water bills in England and Wales have surged by over 40% in real terms since privatisation. This burden disproportionately affects low-income households, pushing them towards water poverty. Incredibly we are heading to situation where poorer families will soon struggle to afford clean water for basic needs.

Added to that, the pursuit of profit has often come at the expense of infrastructure maintenance and investment. Private water companies, driven by short-term financial gains, have neglected basic and vital upgrades and repairs to aging water systems. This negligence has resulted in frequent water leakages, bursts, and contamination incidents, jeopardising public health and safety. Still think privatisation is a good idea?

Crooked Profit Motives

Environmental degradation is another awful consequence of water privatisation. With profit as their primary motive, private water companies have little or no incentive to prioritise conservation and environmental sustainability. From over-extraction of groundwater to pollution of rivers and water bodies, privatised water management has contributed to a host of ecological disasters across the UK.

Furthermore, the lack of accountability and transparency within privatised water companies makes these issues even worse. Unlike publicly-owned utilities, many private firms operate with little oversight, shielding themselves from scrutiny and accountability. This opacity extends to crucial decisions regarding water allocation, pricing, and environmental management, leaving the public in the dark about matters that impact their lives more than they might realise.

A Privilege or a Human Right

The ramifications of water privatisation extend beyond domestic concerns to the global stage. By commodifying water, privatisation makes it appear like access to this essential resource is a privilege rather than a human right. This mindset not only makes socio-economic inequalities inevitable but also undermines efforts to address water scarcity and demands to allow people access to clean water.

We need to immediately rethink our approach to water management. Rather than entrusting this vital resource to profit-driven crooks, we have to understand water has to have democratically elected public control and stewardship. Reverting to public ownership would not only ensure affordability, reliability, and accountability but also prioritise environmental sustainability.

The experiment of water privatisation in the UK has failed miserably on every count. It has driven up costs, compromised infrastructure, degraded the environment, and eroded public trust. As we navigate the challenges of the 21st century, securing access to clean water is a priority. The number one priority. We are screwed without it. Everything will die if water companies keep poisoning everything.

Surely it’s time to turn the tide on privatisation and reclaim water as a common heritage that belongs to us all, not a greedy few?

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