Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keep Davis water affordable under public operation

From page A11 | February 24, 2013 |

By Nancy and Don Price

Ken Wagstaff, former Davis mayor, claimed in his op-ed piece last Sunday that opponents of Measure I are guilty of myth-making when we say that the “Davis/Woodland municipal system will be ‘privatized’ because it will hire an operator.”

Unfortunately, it would seem that Wagstaff and supporters of Measure I, including a clutch of elected officials, are either responsible for creating their own myths or don’t fully understand what privatization means.

Worldwide, “privatization” is understood to include outright ownership, long-term lease or operation and management by a private, for-profit corporation under contract to a municipal government to provide water services over a determined number of years. This is precisely what the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency will do when the final contract is signed to design, build and operate the Woodland-Davis project.

In other words, Measure I will allow a private operator to sell water to Davis residents and earn a profit in the process, effectively turning a public good into a commodity subject to market forces.

Across this country and worldwide, this model of privatization, in particular of critical resources such as water, is completely discredited and resisted. Those who have experienced privatization have quickly become fed up with higher water rates used to pay corporate profits to investors and shareholders, and with reduced transparency, local democratic oversight and accountability.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates privately owned utilities and services and rules on rate increases, generally allows private providers at least an 8 to 10 percent profit, so we can be sure that the contracted private operator of this project will earn at least this, though you won’t see it disclosed in financial documents or spreadsheets.

Moreover, handing over control to a private corporation puts us at great risk of further price hikes beyond what is built into the current proposed rate increase, which covers only five years. In fact, at any time, the corporate operator can make the case for a rate increase because “their” operating costs have gone up. This siphoning off of our and the city’s money to pay off corporate profits means less money for the common good such as parks, greenbelts, road maintenance, community facilities and more.

It should not be lost on Davis voters that throughout the world, municipalities are fighting to recover public control over privatized water utilities. Even Paris, France — home of some of the world’s largest private water utilities — recently “liberated” its water services from private operation to establish public, democratic water management. The results in the first year: The city saved $46 million and rates fell by 8 percent.

And what about oversight? As I understand it, the length of private operation of the project, whether for 15 or 20 years, is still undetermined. Yet, because there are only four votes on the Joint Powers Authority — two from Davis and Woodland each, either party could hold the other hostage on any matter by a single vote. And every year that we contract out to a private operator is a year squandered in terms of building public capacity and expertise — making the possibility of bringing the water back under public control more difficult.

Why should Davis endorse privatization when the trend is toward re-municipalization to keep water services public and affordable? Please join me in voting no on Measure I. We can meet our water needs for the next years without the Woodland-Davis project. This will give us time to craft a more affordable, cost-effective, public and environmentally sustainable alternative to meet Davis’ water needs.

— Nancy and Don Price are members of Yolo Ratepayers for Affordable Public Utility Services, and Don, a retired professor of Chinese history, taught a course on Chinese environmental history.



Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Former foster youths aided by UCD’s Guardian programs

    By Sarah Colwell | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Rain Recyclers saves water for another day

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    City plans signs to improve flow on Fifth Street

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Boston bombing suspect in court for first time since 2013

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    U.S., Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    State gets more rain, big mudslide

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Feds will discuss Berryessa Snow Mountain protection

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    ‘Longest Night’ service Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Nominate teens for Golden Heart awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Journalist will join post-film discussion Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    City offices will take a winter break

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Yolo County needs a few good advisers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Per Capita Davis: Time to stop fooling around

    By John Mott-Smith | From Page: A4

    NAMI-Yolo offers free mental health education program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    Disagreement on mother’s care

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    Marovich is a brilliant diplomat

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    And a jolly time was had by all

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Remember that all lives matter

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Pollution from electric vehicles

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6



    Devil boys host Les Curry beginning Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD women gear up for second half of swim season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie men begin 4-game road trip at Air Force

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    On skiing: What to know when buying new skis

    By Jeffrey Weidel | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: DBC Juniors rider Kanz wins a cyclocross event

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery



    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: B3

    College Corner: How does applying for financial aid work?

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: B3

    Something growing in the mailbox

    By Don Shor | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Anniversary: Barbara and Jan Carter

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8



    Sing and dance along to Cold Shot at Froggy’s

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Point of Brew: Recollections of Christmases past

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A7

    Golden Bough brings Irish holidays to The Palms

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Come ‘Home for the Holidays’ and benefit school arts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7





    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4



    Comics: Thursday, December 18, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6


    Last Minute Gift Guide

    Young phenoms make YouTube success look like child’s play

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG1

    Classic or contemporary, it’s all holiday music to our ears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG2

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG3

    Holiday decorating contest winners light up our lives

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: LMG4 | Gallery

    Gift ideas for the health-conscious

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: LMG6

    Hall of Fame proudly puts these toys on the shelf

    By The Associated Press | From Page: LMG7