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Powelson highlights exceptional record of water companies in Providence letter

In a letter to the Providence Journal, Robert Powelson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Water Companies, corrects inaccurate claims made about water companies and the solutions they could offer to help address the city’s water system needs. Powelson’s letter cites findings from a 2018 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows water companies have a superior record of providing high-quality drinking water compared to municipal governments.

Read the full piece below:

The Dec. 4 letter by J. Michael Denney (“Why it’s a bad idea to privatize Providence water”) makes inaccurate claims about water companies in regard to safety, water quality and infrastructure.

The evidence — hard data from scientific, published studies — overwhelmingly shows that water companies have a superior record of providing high-quality drinking water compared to municipal governments.

A 2018 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reviewed EPA data from 1982-2015 and found that “private ownership” of a water system was “significantly associated with higher compliance” with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This confirms previous studies, including one out of Georgetown University and Texas A&M that showed privately-owned water systems are 24 percent less likely to incur health violations of the SDWA than government-owned systems.

When it comes to safety, data shows that private utilities have a stronger record than government-run utilities. A Governing Magazine analysis found that private utility employees have a nearly 52-percent lower work-related illness and injury rate than public utility employees.

Further, the letter completely ignores water companies’ significant infrastructure investment. The six largest U.S. water companies alone invest nearly $2.7 billion each year to improve their community tap water systems. This is equivalent to the combined total annual federal appropriation for our nation’s two major water infrastructure programs.

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