Saturday, 3 June 2017

Why nationalising the water industry is a bad idea....

It will surprise people to learn that most the the USA's water infrastructure is publicly-owned and managed. And it's not just high profile disasters (poisonings if you prefer) that are the issue, it's that keeping consumers - who vote - happy leads to under-investment in that infrastructure:
Yet there clearly are major infrastructure repair needs in America. We have not been properly maintaining the assets we have built. Levee failures notoriously caused much of the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but America has yet to address the neglect of its dam and levee systems. For example, the recent possibility of an overflow or collapse at the Oroville Dam in California forced 180,000 people to be evacuated. Many dams, levees, and locks on our inland waterway system are in need of repair, often at significant cost. Examples include Locks 52 and 53 on the Ohio River. Built in 1929, their replacement cost is $2.9 billion. As the New York Times reported, this replacement has been botched, and it was originally supposed to cost only $775 million—still a lot of money.
As is reported recently, the UK is not without these water management challenges but they are largely in parts of the system outside the control of the industry. All this means we pay more for our water than the average American but it also means we have a water supply and sewage system that works.


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