The Water Barons

Cholera and the age of the water barons

The explosive growth of three private water utility companies in the last 10 years raises fears that mankind may be losing control of its most vital resource to a handful of monopolistic corporations.
Canada

Hard water: The Uphill Campaign to Privatize Canada's Waterworks

Hamilton was the first privatized large water utility in Canada, a country where waterworks have been overwhelmingly a public affair – and where most people like it that way. The Hamilton experience was supposed to demonstrate an alternative, free market model, supposed to change public opinion. It has. But not as expected.
Read more about Hard water: The Uphill Campaign to Privatize Canada's Waterworks
United States

Low rates, needed repairs lure 'big water' to Uncle Sam's plumbing

By and large, Americans have a safe, plentiful and cheap water supply, but three days in 2002 were a case study in the nation's water woes. The country's geriatric water pipes need to be fixed or replaced, and government and industry studies have estimated that it will take between $150 billion and $1 trillion over the next three decades to do the job.
Read more about Low rates, needed repairs lure 'big water' to Uncle Sam's plumbing
South Africa

Metered to death

The biggest problem in this country ravaged by AIDS, tuberculosis and malnourishment, is water. Few can afford it. But with World Bank blessing, the government is trying to end water subsidies, forcing millions of South Africans to seek their water from polluted rivers and lakes. The result: one of the largest outbreaks of cholera.
Read more about Metered to death

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our email newsletter and be the first to view our ground-breaking investigations and multimedia.

Sign Up

Transparency

The ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.

Support Our Work

Independent, fearless investigative journalism is expensive and ICIJ relies on your support.

Please consider becoming a sponsor.