To: The Rhode Island State House and The Rhode Island State Senate

Keep the Providence Water Supply Board in public hands

Reject the bill 8123 "AN ACT RELATING TO WATERS AND NAVIGATION -- THE MUNICIPAL WATER SUPPLY SYSTEMS TRANSACTIONS ACT" that would allow the sale or lease of the Providence Water Supply and prohibit the Public Utilities Commission from having any oversight or jurisdiction over water transactions.

Why is this important?

A House bill introduced at the General Assembly on April 26 would allow the Providence Water Supply Board, which provides water to 60% of Rhode Islanders, to be sold or leased to a private or quasi-private entity. An identical Senate bill is due for a hearing on Tuesday, May 29 at 4:30 p.m. or later in Room 313 of the RI State House.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza supports this legislation because he wants to raise money for the City of Providence's pension fund, which is currently funded at 26%. While the pension fund is a serious issue, water, a critical public resource and the foundation of our health and economic well-being, should not be used to correct decades of fiscal mismanagement by the City of Providence.

Privatizing water, or using a public-private partnership to manage water, has been tried in the US and abroad and has led to corruption, environmental hazards, water rates that rise by 59 percent, poor service and damage to infrastructure. The public loses control over a resource we cannot live without, and cities have spent tens of millions to reclaim public control over the water utility.