Mary’s Missives Miss the Mark - Truth from the Tap

TFTT Report

Mary’s Missives Miss the Mark

A recent piece in CQ Researcher did a deep dive into water privatization from a global perspective. A central part of the piece was a pro/con conversation that featured NAWC president and CEO Rob Powelson and Food & Water Watch activist Mary Grant.

Mary’s “con” section left us scratching our heads and knowing we needed to correct the record. Here are some of the many ways Mary clearly missed the mark in her anti-private water diatribe.

  • Mary calls for a discussion about “real solutions” yet the only so-called solution her group puts forward is asking for an enormous sum of money from Washington. This is despite the fact that her own group admits the latest round of federal funding for infrastructure “provided only 7% of the funding that our communities require to meet existing water quality standards.” We are left wondering where she hopes the additional 93% will come from.
  • Mary, herself, uses the phrase “red herring” and we think that’s an appropriate term for the unsupported claims she makes about accountability and jobs. Mary and her group can never point to any actual examples of jobs lost following a water system sale. And when Mary talks about accountability and “control,” she is saying that she prefers that water systems be controlled by local politicians who have no experience or expertise running a water system instead of actual professionals. Then again, why should that surprise us – after all, Food & Water Watch doesn’t have any actual water professionals on staff either.
  • Mary’s favorite distraction word is “rates” and she hopes that it will divert from the important conversation about water quality and reliable service (because even she knows private water companies excel in these areas compared to government-run systems). Even if one accepted the so-called study Mary cites as legitimate – it’s not because it’s based on a flawed, unrepresentative dataset and ignores key cost components – the amount she concludes private water companies charge more equates to 50 cents a day, an amount well worth it if it means having water that is safe to drink and not having to pay a much higher price for bottled water at the grocery store.
  • Study after study after study have examined Safe Drinking Water Act compliance data and all agree that NAWC members have the best water quality record. Mary seems to believe that these studies that cover tens of thousands of systems and include over 30 years of data are somehow all flawed and worthless. And she provides no substation for her water quality claims (see links above…we like to cite actual facts).

This is just a partial list of the ways Mary’s arguments went astray. The fact remains that U.S. drinking water systems face a massive $600 billion investment gap over the next 20 years. Meeting this investment need through the federal government alone would require an enormous and unreasonable 1,100% increase in annual federal spending on water infrastructure.

It is painfully and dangerously shortsighted to take a proven solution – working with professional water companies – off the table solely because you are ideologically opposed to private sector involvement, which is a concise summary of Mary’s position.

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