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. In Europe and North America, analysts predict that within the next 15 years these companies will control 65 percent to 75 percent of what are now public waterworks.
The companies have worked closely with the World Bank and other international financial institutions to gain a foothold on every continent. They aggressively lobby for legislation and trade laws to force cities to privatize their water and set the agenda for debate on solutions to the world’s increasing water scarcity. The companies argue they are more efficient and cheaper than public utilities. Critics say they are predatory capitalists that ultimately plan to control the world’s water resources and drive up prices even as the gap between rich and poor widens. The fear is that accountability will vanish, and the world will lose control of its source of life.
William Marsden – award-winning Canadian journalist with The Gazette of Montreal coordinated the global investigation
Bill Birnbauer investigated Australia’s problems with water privatization in Adelaide and Sydney
Bob Carty tracked the escalating privatization debate in Canada
Julio Godoy chronicled French dominance in the global water marketplace
Andreas Harsono investigated the political cronyism involved in Jakarta’s water privatization
Erika Hobbs examined how the private water industry’s increasing influence in Congress helped shape U.S. water policy
Roel Landingin tracked political connections of two global water companies’ and their struggles in supplying water to Manila
Daniel Politi assisted in the creation of the water company database and examined world trade and international aid issues
María Teresa Ronderos contrasted Cartagena’s water privatization deal with Bogota’s successful municipal water utility
Daniel Santoro examined how Aguas Argentinas, the World Bank’s model for privatization, is crumbling under debt
Jacques Pauw probed South Africa’s experience with water privatization and cholera
Arthur Allen project editor, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Bill Allison managing editor, Center for Public Integrity
Maud S. Beelman director, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Charles Lewis executive director, Center for Public Integrity
Aron Pilhofer database editor, Center for Public Integrity
Peter Newbatt Smith research editor, Center for Public Integrity
M. Asif Ismail
This investigation was supported by grants from the Park Foundation, Inc. and the Fund for Constitutional Government.