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Water Rights: No Clear Solution


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Breitenbush River above French Creek near Detroit. Source: U.S. Geological Survey at

Breitenbush River above French Creek near Detroit. Source: U.S. Geological Survey at

The privatization of public water supplies is occurring in many places around the world. Sold like a common commodity, the rights for distribution and management of community water are being bought and controlled more and more by private entrepreneurs and corporations. But a global movement of activists say this most basic element of life should stay in the hands of the people who use it and out of the control of profit-seeking corporations or government bureaucracies.

On this edition, we investigate what’s behind customer complaints of American Water, North America’s largest private water company. And we’ll take you to Detroit, Michigan, where anti-poverty activists are leading the fight to demand that access to water be treated as a human right and not a commodity.

This show was made possible in part by the Park Foundation.


Maureen Taylor, “Detroit: Not a Drop to Drink”; Mary, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and DWSD customer; John Riehl, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 207; Sylvia Orduno, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Brennan Brown, formerly of the Macinac Center for Public Policy; Ian Hart, Pacific Institute; Marian Kramer, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Dorthy Crawford, Ohio American Water customer; Milton Nielsen, American Water customer, Felton, CA; Jim Graham, FLOW, or “Friends of Locally Owned Water,” Felton, CA; Barbara Springer, California American Water customer, member of Felton FLOW; Kevin Tilden, California American Water Spokesperson; Victoria Kaplan, Food and Water Watch organizing director, Washington, DC; Representative Renee Kosel, Illinois State Representative.

Senior Producer/Host: Tena Rubio
Contributing Freelance Producers: Puck Lo, Christina Aanestad, Samantha Calamari
Associate Producer: Puck Lo
Interns: Samson Reiny and Joaquin Palomino, Elena Botkin-Levy

Bonus Audio:

Public vs Private Partnerships – Can public-private partnerships ever work? Correspondent Samantha Calamari has this story from Lee, Massachusetts.

For more information:

Michigan Welfare Rights Organization – Detroit, MI

Pacific Institute – Oakland, CA

AFSCME Local 207 – Detroit, MI

Mackinac Center for Public Policy – Midland, MI

Food and Water Watch -Washington, DC

Friends of Locally Owned Water – Felton, CA

Illinois State Representative Renée Kosel, 81st District – Mokena, IL

American Water Headquarters – Voorhees, NJ

American Water’s Parent Company, RWE

Veolia Water North America – Houston, TX

Massachusetts Senator Ben Downing – Pittsfield, MA

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection – Boston, MA

Town of Lee Camber of Commerce – Lee, MA

Additional Information:

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Author: Radio Project

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