Water privatization

The debate on a private water supply, which is often associated with the catchphrase water as a commodity to the point, is about the political and economic aspirations, the water supply the private sector to organize and not to lead as a state or local government institutions. There are on the one hand the possibility of the entire infrastructure such as wells, water storage and piping systems to transfer to private ownership (eg the UK ), or simply to organize the management of the water supply usually on time-limited concessions privately (eg France ). In its development policy recommendations put World Bank and WTO in the privatization of water supply, the establishment of a regulator close to monitor the activities of the company.


The reason given for privatization with the conviction that private enterprises are more efficient than state monopolies. In addition to savings for the state hoped that improvements in the quality of the water supply. A higher efficiency of private water supply was compared with local institutions empirically, however, at least for developed countries not be detected.

Is criticized in the privatization among other things, that private companies are often unwilling to make long-term, capital-intensive investments in infrastructure. Thus suffering completely privatized London's water supply in a number of leaks, because the renovation of the outdated pipeline network was contrary to an agreement with the regulatory authority taken away by the water utility. The CSU, the SPD, the Left Party, the CDU and the Greens opposed the privatization of drinking water.

Critics also fear that due to the privatization of the poor sections of the population access could be denied to the water and ecological limits of the use would not be considered. Particularly affected by a possible price increase were the poorer people who then may no longer could afford the cost of drinking water. That statement is contrary to the right of access to clean water, which was recognized on 28 July 2010 by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a human right.


In France the management of the water supply has a long tradition by the private sector. Already in the 19th century as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the water supply of many communities has been placed in the hands of listed companies. After the Second World War was broadcast in the reconstruction in the 1950s by many communities to preserve and develop the infrastructure for water supply private company that can ensure fix the price of water. While the treaties in the 19th century were very long term and its duration was up to 99 years, they are now limited to 12 to 30 years. Were formed in the wake of banks based corporations that operate worldwide today.

To the extent that an international water market has been established, it will be a few French and British companies such as Veolia Water (formerly Vivendi ), Suez and Thames Water dominates. RWE has been involved since the late 1990s on the international water market, but again focuses on electricity and gas after the sale of Thames Water in 2006.

Other major water corporations are Aguas de Barcelona, ​​SAUR, United Utilities and Bechtel Corporation.

The internationally operating corporations there are usually mixed companies, which also include subsidiaries and affiliates in the areas of water treatment and disposal, solid waste disposal, energy, chemical industry and so on. Vivendi Vivendi Universal Entertainment was also owner of Universal Studios and still holds one-fifth of investments in this media group.

After presentation of the journalist Frank furrier Pelkmann his view was partly also " ideologically driven " efforts to privatize the water supply in poor countries have largely failed as part of globalization. According to a documentation of the Hessischer Rundfunk, there are also positive examples where privatization in African countries led to lower prices and better care.

Water supply in the third world

Especially in the south in the Third World, the water supply is difficult. The disposal of the sources of water supply and the decision on investment in infrastructure has become an important political factor.

After the Ghanaian geographer Ian Yeboah considers the privatization of the water supply through the strategic concentration on particularly profitable areas (so-called cherry-picking ) is characterized. Although in Ghana about 93 % of the urban population, but only 40 % of the rural population had access to safe drinking water, the privatization under the support of the World Bank should be restricted to urban areas. In his view, the privatization was therefore operated mainly by the " Euro -centric " urban elites in Ghana.

The Ghanaian economist Franklin Cudjoe says, governments have often proved their incompetence in the necessary investments. Many people would indeed have a water pipe, but that was still far from water supply guaranteed. By private investors at least more people could be connected to the water supply. Therefore Cudjoe hopes to privatize the water supply and criticizes the mentality of Western NGOs that are interested in Africa's backwardness.

In addition to state and private forms of water supply are available in rural areas of poor countries often also a functioning water supply on the basis of cooperatives or village communities.


The commitment to market opening through the GATS agreement, the international General Agreement on Trade in Services, which also promotes the privatization of the water could cause local and cooperative initiatives for water supply are exposed to a fierce competition and they are no longer funded by the state allowed.

Similar discussions about privatization is also available for other areas of interest that are to be gradually liberalized under the GATS.