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Still good reasons to be skeptical of private water companies

Last December, The Sun published a letter by the then-president of the National Association of Water Companies slandering Food & Water Watch and touting the supposed benefits of privatizing water services. Now, eight months later, the organization appears to have a new president who is still pushing the same line (“City better off putting mismanaged water system in private hands,” Aug. 20). He cites a study that showed private sources had fewer compliance problems with clean water standards.

That is a predictable consequence of putting more money into the systems, not some inherent virtue of private management. So far as I am aware, that study did not address the question of universal access to clean water, which is a major concern for all thoughtful citizens, both for considerations of fairness and for possible public health consequences when some people do not have access. Water quality is important, but access and affordability are considerations private companies do not address, nor can affordability be expected to increase when profit is added to the costs of providing water service.

We must continue to recognize that water is a common resource and explore new ways to improve our systems and distribute costs equitably.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam, Baltimore

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