Methodology: The Water Barons
- The companies in the database had the highest total revenue among water supply companies. (Because it often partners with Bechtel in water projects, United Utilities was included in the database, although it does not rank among the top five companies that deal in the delivery of drinking water.)
- All financial information and customer data from the companies were taken from annual reports, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and official company Internet sites. Annual reports and official web sites were the primary sources of information about each company’s presence in various countries. This was supplemented by directly querying the companies, and by searching the archives of major newspapers. Information from news accounts had to appear in print twice before it was considered for use.
- Currency Conversions: All currencies were converted to the U.S. dollar using the average exchange during each company’s fiscal year. Historical exchange rates were taken from OANDA (http://www.oanda.com/) and double checked using the Policy Analysis Computing & Information Facility in Commerce (PACIFIC) Exchange Rate Service (http://pacific.commerce.ubc.ca/xr/).
- Companies included in the relationships matrix were derived from our own research, and limited to major global organizations that advocate or promote issues or policy that deals with the supply of drinking water. In some U.S. cases, the organizations were limited to one country but played a significant role in the water utility industry.
- The relationship codes are defined as follows: “Individual relationship” indicates a third-party tie — such as an employee of a company sitting on the board of a water organization — between two groups. “Formal corporate” indicates an established and integral relationship, where one organization works closely with another. For example, the tie between a company that funds an organization is designated as “formal” relationship. An “informal corporate” label is given to groups that publicly support or work with each other, but do not necessarily play key roles in each other’s organizations.
Campaign Finance Data
The Center acquired its contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org) of all private companies and public entities, and their trade groups, that are primarily engaged in providing water and water services covering 1996, 1998, 2000 and most of the 2002 election cycles. The industry coding was done by the Center for Responsive Politics and the analysis was done by the Center for Public Integrity. The figures include soft money and political action committee contributions as well as contributions from individuals who identified themselves as employees of the companies studied by the Center for Public Integrity.
The Center for Public Integrity created a database of federal lobbying activity reports filed by water companies, utilities and their trade groups between 1996 and 2002. The Center acquired paper reports filed by these entities and then keyed them into an electronic database, which was used for the CPI analysis.
“Water revenue” refers to revenue derived from operations pertaining to the delivery of drinking water, as reported in corporate filings. (Conglomerates did not always report a separate figure for water revenue.) “Total revenue” refers to the company’s reported overall revenue, which comes from a variety of sources, including water operations and other, unrelated activity. “Net income” refers to reported income figures after taxes. “Percent of water revenue” compares a single company’s reported water revenue to its overall revenue figures.
“At a glance” box sources are compiled from (in alphabetical order):
Asian Development Bank
Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Natural Resources Atlas
Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000 Report,
World Health Organization
Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource, Marq De Villiers, 2000
The World Bank Group
The World Factbook 2002, CIA;
World Resources Report 2000-01, World Resources Institute