Rep. Jonathan Brostoff
Press Release

Representatives Stuck and Brostoff Introduce Legislation to Prevent Privatization of Wisconsin’s Water Utilities

Representatives Stuck and Brostoff are introducing LRB 4602/1 along with Senator Chris Larson in order to keep Wisconsin’s drinking water under local control .

By - Jan 29th, 2016 06:35 pm

MADISON – Today Rep. Stuck (D – Appleton) and Rep. Brostoff (D-Milwaukee) introduced legislation which would prohibit the privatization of Wisconsin’s water and sewer utilities.

“In light of the recent Republican attempt through AB 554 to allow out-of-state for-profit companies to take over Wisconsin communities’ sewer and water utilities, putting profit ahead of access to clean, affordable water, we are introducing legislation which will prevent any private company from obtaining water and sewer utilities in Wisconsin” stated Rep. Stuck.

“I am appalled that my colleagues across the aisle are trying to take Wisconsin down the dangerous path of privatizing our water. A one-time privatization scheme pay off pales in comparison to risking our public safety,” said Rep. Brostoff. “Water privatization for the personal profit of out-of-state water barons and corporations leads the priority to shift from providing water to lining pockets.”

“As a member of the Assembly Committee on Energy Utilities, I did not hear testimony from any municipal leader asking for expanding the ability of corporations to take over their water utilities,” said Rep Stuck. “Instead what we heard was a desire to keep control of these vital utilities local, so that decisions about how to keep a cost-effective and safe water supply are made by the local community and not by the profit seeking shareholders of private companies.”

“Wisconsin has a long, proud tradition of hunting, fishing, outdoor activities, and providing safe drinking water for our families to enjoy.” Rep. Brostoff continued. “I’m stunned they are trying to put our traditions and our families at risk. Is nothing sacred?”

Representatives Stuck and Brostoff are introducing LRB 4602/1 along with Senator Chris Larson in order to keep Wisconsin’s drinking water under local control and to reject the idea that our water should be a source of profits for corporations.

By Rep. Amanda Stuck and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

Mentioned in This Press Release

8 thoughts on “Representatives Stuck and Brostoff Introduce Legislation to Prevent Privatization of Wisconsin’s Water Utilities”

  1. David Ciepluch says:

    I prefer the method we have in place today, controlled by public officials that we elect, and operated by public employees. Water prices are very reasonable in our area and our water is protected by a multitude of tests. I would not trust a private entity with such a precious item that our very lives depend on.

    No. to any private profit supply of water or allowing them to take it and sell as a commodity. No to any ALEC laws written by corporate attorneys for profit business to exploit consumers for what is a life requirement. As taxpayers, we have paid our entire lives along with our ancestors for these municipal water systems. Turning them over to private business is nothing but rape and exploitation of taxpayers.

    Water in Wisconsin is owned by the public. This was established in the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, and further enshrined in Wisconsin’s Constitution and State Statute under the Public Trust Doctrine. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is assigned the responsibility and role of water protection held in trust as guardian of water for all citizens. There is a great deal of case law supporting this fact.

    We do know that Walker and the GOP have been doing everything possible to undermine environmental laws and the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin. Walker and the GOP cannot be trusted and have zero credibility in letting lobbyists and corporations write the laws for Wisconsin. Gutting WDNRs budget and firing 100 experienced scientific experts is a very visible example of their recent betrayal. This action is another one.

  2. Bruce Eggum says:

    We need a Constitutional amendment barring the sale of all Wisconsin land, minerals, oils, coal, gases, waters and any natural resource of Wisconsin.
    These are the items which will perpetuate this States longevity.

  3. AG says:

    Is it really all the doom and gloom democrats say it is? Veolia has run MMSD’s system for years and things have been fine as far as I know. Can anyone really tell me why this is bad if it’s still regulated by the PSC and the same water quality standards are in place?

    A few anecdotal examples of bad decision making have happened under both private corporate run systems and municipal system, so that by itself doesn’t convince me.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    Is this because of Flint?

  5. Tom D says:

    AG, water quality issues aside, one big question is what privatization does to water bills. Veolia is contracted for a fixed rate for 10-year term. Water supply privatization would subject people to rate increases constrained only by the PSC, and the arrangement would continue forever.

    Water today is priced based on its supply cost, not its utility. Water is so essential for life (not just drinking and cooking, but also bathing, clothes washing, etc) that people would pay MUCH more if necessary.

    The private operators know this, and want to take advantage of that price discrepancy.

    Look at toll road privatization in Illinois and Indiana for examples of what happens when a profit motive suddenly appears. Indiana privatized its toll road (basically I-80) in 2006, and Chicago privatized its Skyway (I-90) in 2008. (Both deals involved 99-year leases which, given human lifespans, are effectively sales.) Since those sales, tolls on both highways have more than doubled.

    One note about the Indiana tolls… electronic tolls (I-Pass/E-Z pass) haven’t yet increased because Indiana is paying them to delay those increases. Indiana’s cash tolls have been raised as have all Chicago Skyway tolls.

    Keep in mind toll roads were able to double rates within 10 years even though they don’t have a monopoly—you can always avoid tolls by taking a longer “free” route. The only alternative to tap water is bottled water which is much more expensive and less convenient. (Try showering or running a dishwasher with bottled water, for example!)

  6. John Wilson says:

    We will be buing back these water rights at a very high price when this all goes amuck. NO! Do not let private industry control our water. Water is the most important resource we have aside from our air. Would you allow a private company to control your air?

  7. AG says:

    Tom D, I understand what you’re saying. I’m not trying to be argumentative, just trying to understand the thinking behind this. SO with that in mind, more questions. How is this different than a WE energies running the electric utilities? We have the PSC to keep rates in line (Well, mostly). Why wouldn’t that work for the water utilities?

  8. David Ciepluch says:

    As I stated earlier, water is owned by citizens with WDNR holding it in trust. GOP continues to erode and corrode DNR, gutting the budget, and fired 100 of the best experts and guardians of resources.

    Private business has a goal of making everything a commodity for purchase including water and air that are required for life. We already have to pay for air and water since it is polluted and has to be treated to make water drinkable, and expensive equipment added to power plants and vehicles to keep air cleaner.

    Private business has only one goal, maximize profits and use every tool possible including manipulating laws and politicians to benefit them, and not the consumer. This also means keeping consumers as ignorant as possible and lacks transparency as a shield from the consumer.

    While the WPSC regulated utilities including municipal and the electric and natural gas monopolies, the 3 Commissioners appointed by the Governor. Currently two of the Walker appointees and soon to be a third do not look out for the interests of the consumer. Anything the monopoly wants, they get.

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