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New Tools Shine Spotlight on Anti-Private Water Activists’ Deception

Truth from the Tap has created two new items as part of the Truth from the Tap Toolkit. The first sets the record straight on private water in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while the other is an updated examination of Felton, California and the broken promises after the government took over the local water system by condemnation. Both Pittsburgh and Felton are prime examples of how anti-private water activists spin false tales, leaving out important facts and completely distorting reality.

In Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) maintained a peer consulting arrangement with Veolia between 2012 and 2015. Under the arrangement, a small group of Veolia employees worked alongside more than 200 PWSA employees to improve the day-to-day operation of the authority and to share industry best practices. Corporate Accountability International (CAI), however, claims that Veolia “managed” the PWSA and explicitly blames the company for elevated lead levels in city water, which is far from the truth. In fact, PWSA always kept control over all decision-making and was responsible for the choice that resulted in the lead crisis now taking place.

In 2008, activists pushed Felton, California community leaders into a government takeover of the local water system. At the time, the system was owned by California American Water, a regulated water company that serves about 615,000 people in the state. The record clearly shows that the promises and predictions of Food & Water Watch, Felton FLOW and other condemnation advocates proved to be wildly inaccurate. The acquisition of the water utility by the city cost six times more than estimated; rates have increased three times faster than promised; residents will pay considerably higher taxes for 30 years; and the promise of “local control” has turned out to be meaningless.

These new tools provide an in-depth look at Pittsburgh and Felton and why activists’ narratives about these two cities – and generally about private water – simply don’t hold water.

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