NAWC Condemns Food & Water Watch's Use of Flint to Continue its Campaign Against Private Water

US EPA Didn't Respond Quickly Enough to Flint Drinking Water Crisis
February 19, 2016
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalize Rule Protecting Northern Long-Eared Bat
February 19, 2016
Show all

In a written statement this week, Michael Deane, Executive Director of National Association of Water Companies, condemns Food & Water Watch, who continues to wage its propaganda war against private water companies.

Statement on FWW Report for Detroit News
Michael Deane, Executive Director of NAWC

Food & Water Watch has clearly demonstrated it is a source that cannot be trusted.  Their reports on the private water industry ignore important facts, lack essential context and are tailored to advance an ideological agenda.  “The State of Public Water in the United States” is no exception.

A key context is missing from this latest report: water rates are a reflection of water utility investment.  A utility that is properly investing to maintain its system will have higher rates than a utility that defers investment.  The easiest way to keep rates low is to not invest in a system, let it deteriorate and risk Flint-like failures.  Keeping rates artificially low and deferring investment has serious consequences:  while private utility rates may be higher in some cases, studies show public utilities are more likely to have EPA violations than private utilities.

Taking a step back, it is also important to note that the entire practice of rate comparisons – a practice that Food & Water Watch loves – is total fallacy.  There are dozens of factors that influence water rates, including investment, water source, service area density, service area elevation, and water treatment needs. Because there are so many factors specific to each service area (even within the same region), it is impossible to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of rates between systems. Experts agree that this practice is unwise.  In fact, the new Food & Water Watch report cites three separate papers (the Great Lakes, California, and Delaware rate surveys) that each explicitly warn against the very rate comparison practice Food & Water Watch employs as the basis for their report.

The latest Food & Water Watch report proves nothing other than the group’s desire to remain ignorant of key facts and contexts, and their resolve to create ways to attack the private water industry.  In light of the Flint disaster and our greater national infrastructure crisis, it is absurd for FWW to blindly celebrate artificially low rates and ignore the potential real-world consequences of deferred investment.

The members of NAWC and our thousands of water professionals working in communities across the country are proud of the work we do every day making investments with the customers we serve to ensure they receive safe, reliable and sustainable drinking water – while Food & Water Watch does nothing to offer real solutions to serious challenges.

As NAWC notes, the nation’s water crisis has been caused by our failure to reinvest in our water infrastructure and treatment systems.   Time and time again FWW has proven its claims to be fallacious, and seems more intent on raising money to line its own coffers than fixing real problems.  It’s one thing to be critical of failures in order to identify solutions and improve public health and protection of the environment, but FWW continues to be on the wrong side of the solution.  And in fact FWW is part of the problem.  See Value of Water Coalition, a group of public and private water utilities working together to advance important policy solutions.