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Chugger

The Privatisation Of Water

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It's not good they are controlled by private companies.

But it was an absolute disaster in state hands in this country.

Massive under investment by decades of mismanaging short termist governments led to them being starved of funds.

The private companies have invested and have cut bloated costs that the state does not seem capable of for whatever reason. Too political I suppose.

No whilst not ideal - private companies, coupled with a proper regulator may actually be the least worst in practice.

Anecdote.

Pre Privatisation Anglian Water had a seven figure pest control budget for treating sewers / carrying out remedial work / taking enforcement action - restaurants sticking fats down drains.

Post privatisation - budget cut to 5 figures.

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The real thing to watch out for is creeping monetisation.

Note how when water 'shortages' occur, certain sectors of society are targetted and turned into bad guys. In this case it was that wealthy, middle class, have a garden and a car group. Notably those that take the care to use a hosepipe.

A relative minority, 'greedy', and well off - an easy target under the politics of envy so beloved by our former socialist government - even though they account for itro <2% of water pumped.

Watch the mandatory meters springing up, while water leaks accounting for 25% or more of water pumped go unremarked and unrepaired.

Watch as the bills rise 'in line with usage'. Watch as in the future, although your usage plumments your bills will still rise. More money for less product - and continued advertising and brainwashing to make you believe that water is a scarce and expensive resource.

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Argentina and I think Bolivia tried it, and have since rescinded, because it failed miserably and almost ended up in civil war.

Not going to work, anywhere outside of a despotic monarchy or dictatorship.

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Guest eight

The real thing to watch out for is creeping monetisation.

Note how when water 'shortages' occur, certain sectors of society are targetted and turned into bad guys. In this case it was that wealthy, middle class, have a garden and a car group. Notably those that take the care to use a hosepipe.

A relative minority, 'greedy', and well off - an easy target under the politics of envy so beloved by our former socialist government - even though they account for itro <2% of water pumped.

Watch the mandatory meters springing up, while water leaks accounting for 25% or more of water pumped go unremarked and unrepaired.

Watch as the bills rise 'in line with usage'. Watch as in the future, although your usage plumments your bills will still rise. More money for less product - and continued advertising and brainwashing to make you believe that water is a scarce and expensive resource.

I think erranta (in a moment of clarity?) suggested that our water (actually it's their water, in a privatised system) is being exported for cash. I could easily believe this to be the case.

eight

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A popular politician would be one that promised to renationalise all utility companies in the U.K and operate them for the benefit of the population.

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A popular politician would be one that promised to renationalise all utility companies in the U.K and operate them for the benefit of the population.

A naive voter is one who'll believe them and believe that they won't make a mess of it. Ideally such essential utilities should be publically owned, but I really don't trust any government's ability not to make it cost a lot whilst letting it get run down. I don't trust private companies either to skimp on maintainance in order to get a profit showing this year, and do their best to exploit the fact that they're controlling an essential either.

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I really don't trust any government's ability not to make it cost a lot whilst letting it get run down. I don't trust private companies either to skimp on maintainance in order to get a profit showing this year, and do their best to exploit the fact that they're controlling an essential either.

That explains my ambivalence quite well.

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Would you nationalise the food supply?

The big difference with the food supply is that it doesn't require the large scale, large investment, fairly centralised infrastructure that water does.

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Did we learn nothing from Quantum Of Solace?

(Sorry, I know this is a serious matter...)

I don't see how a lesson in successfully reviving a film series then falling flat again straight away tells us anything about water supplies! (yes, I dimly remember what the plot of Quantum of Solace was).

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Anyone can go down to the public toilets and fill up a few bottles.

The problem i have with everyone paying a fixed rate (or nothing at all) for their water is you get rich folk not on meters who fill their swimming pools and sprinkle their several acres of gardens for less than a small family in a small new build that is on a meter.

Either way, i wouldnt trust tap water, privatized or otherwise with all the gender bending crud the feminazis in government put in it.

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A naive voter is one who'll believe them and believe that they won't make a mess of it. Ideally such essential utilities should be publically owned, but I really don't trust any government's ability not to make it cost a lot whilst letting it get run down. I don't trust private companies either to skimp on maintainance in order to get a profit showing this year, and do their best to exploit the fact that they're controlling an essential either.

A public owned company could be independent from government, in theory. It could be non-profit making with a focus on customer service at lowest cost. The profit motive is not necessarily required in production - 'lean' manufacturing systems work by delivering customer requirements at lowest cost and maximum efficiency - profit is a by-product and not a target, as such. As there is no competition in water supply, a private/profit-driven/market based approach makes no sense anyway.

I believe that in the UK, inefficiency as a legacy in public services is in some cases a politically-generated myth (and of course the truth in other cases) - nationalisation isn't automatically the wrong choice as many make out.

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Wasnt one of the reasons for privatisation of the water boards was so more investment in the infrastructure could take place, ie new pipes to reduce leakage from the system and also some increased capacities for reservoirs and one or two new reservoirs?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_privatisation_in_England_and_Wales

Indeed, if you listened to Thatcher. The same goes for the rail network.

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Wasnt one of the reasons for privatisation of the water boards was so more investment in the infrastructure could take place, ie new pipes to reduce leakage from the system and also some increased capacities for reservoirs and one or two new reservoirs?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_privatisation_in_England_and_Wales

I guess the big question is, were those things achieved? Thames water don't appear to have done a very good job leakage wise, but admittedly that's only one water provider, and by no means conclusive. Does anyone have a decent cross section of leakage data pre and post privatisation?

The World Bank seems happy with the result.. but then again, they would be wouldn't they.

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A public owned company could be independent from government, in theory. It could be non-profit making with a focus on customer service at lowest cost. The profit motive is not necessarily required in production - 'lean' manufacturing systems work by delivering customer requirements at lowest cost and maximum efficiency - profit is a by-product and not a target, as such. As there is no competition in water supply, a private/profit-driven/market based approach makes no sense anyway.

I believe that in the UK, inefficiency as a legacy in public services is in some cases a politically-generated myth (and of course the truth in other cases) - nationalisation isn't automatically the wrong choice as many make out.

I wish I could completely believe that, but it appears at the end of the day only greed ever seems to win out over intertia and inefficiency. Publically owned utilities seem to be inevitably old and creaking, with massive resistance to change (I'm not really keen on change myself but they take it to extremes). On the other hand they've got enough weight behind them to prevent them from really blowing up and taking everyone out with them. It's not at all clear what the best solution is. Personally, from an ideological point of view I feel that essential services at the very least, and probably some additional ones, such as post, should be publically owned but from a practical point of view I'm far less sure. At any rate they never seem to end up with people in charge of them determined to do as good a job as possible and improve the service.

I don't believe that the inefficiency argument against them is a myth although it is possibly over-exaggerated because they can keep some things going that are still useful but not economically optimal - such as fresh water at a not too extortionate price to everyone.

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The money required to modernise our water supply probably pales into insignificance compared to the money squandered on bailing out the broken financial system.

You pays your money, they make your choice.

Water should really be a public utility. It isn't. Probably not foreign owned either. Is often is. Water still comes out the taps.

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I wish I could completely believe that, but it appears at the end of the day only greed ever seems to win out over intertia and inefficiency. Publically owned utilities seem to be inevitably old and creaking, with massive resistance to change (I'm not really keen on change myself but they take it to extremes). On the other hand they've got enough weight behind them to prevent them from really blowing up and taking everyone out with them. It's not at all clear what the best solution is. Personally, from an ideological point of view I feel that essential services at the very least, and probably some additional ones, such as post, should be publically owned but from a practical point of view I'm far less sure. At any rate they never seem to end up with people in charge of them determined to do as good a job as possible and improve the service.

I don't believe that the inefficiency argument against them is a myth although it is possibly over-exaggerated because they can keep some things going that are still useful but not economically optimal - such as fresh water at a not too extortionate price to everyone.

These things are partly my own belief, but there are examples, as in the oft-quoted Scandinavian countries, and Germany, in my own experience, of well-run public services.

Also, there was a piece posted on the two NHS threads recently regarding a new book 'The Plot Against the NHS'. In it, the authors maintain that before Blair's restructuring, the NHS was so efficient that private health providers could not compete with it on a cost basis. This is something I have heard a number of times over the years. There are also numerous examples of spending falling and costs rising after privatisation - the example quoted a few posts above, the rising wages of train drivers post-privatisation and others (I don't have links - the information's there somewhere).

In short, while there are undoubtedly grossly inefficient public services, the idea that inefficiency is an innate characteristic of public services is an ideologically-driven lie, to put it in fairly blunt terms. My example above of 'lean' manufacturing is proof that efficiency can be 'managed in' to any organisation, regardless of whether it is there to make a profit or not - profit is not required as a target or output to make it work.

Probably the big thing in the UK to overcome is the culture of using public services as a political or social engineering tool and the idea that they should be used to create employment.

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In one of the wettest countries on Earth, privatisation has turned water into a scarce commodity, worthy of metering! :blink:

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Used to work in the water industry during the privatisation period, and for a while after.

Margaret Thatcher nationalised the water industry.

She had to, it was owned by regional water authorities that had grown from water boards, with much of the land , reservoirs etc owned locally. It wasn't the government's to sell. Until it was nationalised. Then privatised.

She also said that water was a private industry in France and worked well there. That was disingenous - private water companies in France ran water systems on contracts on behalf of local authorities - so they had to compete for the contracts. There were the invevitable instances of companies being so lavishly persuasive in order to get contracts that executives had their collars felt.

In England and Wales, there were the big water authorities roughly arranged around major river catchments and watersheds, but also a lot of smaller water only companies. To prevent the newly privatised water authorities being able to take over the smaller companies (to ensure competition, dontcha know), the privatisation bill banned them from doing so. This left the field open for foreign, mainly French, companies to do the taking over and to then own (not just operate on contract like at home) water companies. They were able to benefit from the higher charges allowed to pay for investment, and to use other parts of their groups to carry out the works. Profits went back to France.

This has continued and some of the big water companies are now also foreign owned.

My problem with the privatisation wasn't/isn't that public was better (it was very ineffective (but cheap)), but that money and resources leave the country and the country doesn't get the financial benefit of supplying water and treating sewage more effectively.

Rant over,

The OP's post just brought it all back to the surface after I thought I'd been able to move on.

Y

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1 :huh: I agree with you Mr Yokel! I too used to work for the water "industry"

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  • 312 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • up 5%



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