Debunking the CAI Report - Truth from the Tap


Debunking the CAI Report

It’s no secret that Corporate Accountability International (CAI) is opposed to private markets, especially when it comes to water. This was made clear by
the anti-private water report CAI and Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) published in 2014, “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and
the case for public water.” However, what CAI and PSIRU claim as fact is severely flawed, biased, and simply incorrect.

Consider the Source

First and foremost, the report is authored by an employee of an organization actively opposed to private water. The very fact that the author cites himself
and his research partner 115 times throughout the report sheds a blinding light that the fact-based research needed for a credible report is not present.

Know the Facts

CAI and PSIRU blindly hail any case of remunicipalization in the United States as a success even if the result ends up hurting the local community. For
instance, in Atlanta, once the city’s water systems landed back in public hands, things did not turn out as promised. Water rates spiked 233 percent over
the first eleven years of public operation. Even worse, it was determined that Atlanta residents were paying the highest water rates of any major U.S. city
in 2011.

The CAI report also points to Indianapolis as evidence that private companies only care about profit and not their employees, claiming that employee
benefits in Indianapolis were cut by $50 million over 25 years. However, at the time the accusations were made, the City Attorney called them “simply not
true,” and the city later confirmed that non-union employees even saw a salary increase. CAI simply ignored these widely reported facts.

Bipartisan Support for Private Water

There is widespread, bipartisan support in the U.S. for private water models. And for good reason: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that
$600 billion needs to be invested in our drinking water and wastewater systems over the next 20 years.

The US Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the Brookings Institute, the Pacific Institute, dozens of academics from across the country,
and even the President of the United States agree that public-private partnerships are a proven and important option for municipalities facing urgent water
infrastructure and operation needs.

The truth is that water companies serve more than 73 million Americans and that more than 86 percent of the communities served by public-private
partnerships renew their contracts. That’s not bias or spin or political ideology talking. Those are the facts.


  1. CAI and Public Services International Research Unit, “Troubled Waters: Misleading industry PR and the case for public water,” 2014
  2. “USA TODAY analysis: Nation’s water costs rushing higher,” USA Today, 9/27/12
  3. “Employee benefit assessments paint different pictures,” Indianapolis Business Journal, 8/4/03
  4. “FACT SHEET: Increasing Investment in U.S. Roads, Ports and Drinking Water Systems Through Innovative Financing,” Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, 01/16/15
  5. U.S. Conference of Mayors Urban Water Council, “Mayor’s Guide to Water and Wastewater Partnership Service Agreements,”
    Brookings Institute, “Public-Private Partnerships to Revamp U.S. Infrastructure,” Feb. 2011
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