Privatization of WPB Water? What Do You Think?

There is a subtle move by two West Palm Beach City Commissioners, Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio to outsource the operation of our city’s water to a private company. During the city’s December 15th Work Session, there was an open discussion, on the dais about outsourcing our water department. The public meeting was contentious as the two commissioners aggressively pushed their desire to hear a presentation from a private company, Poseidon Resources, on the possibility of providing water to WPB by building a water treatment plant outside of our city limits.

The two commissioners said Poseidon Resources has been engaged in talks with the city for a year and a presentation has been in place for 6 months. Scott Kelly is the city’s Assistant City Administrator and the point man for the water project. He allowed a single commissioner, Ms. Mitchell, to request his study on the long term water supply to include the possibility of moving the water treatment facility from its current location on Banyan & Australian Avenue to the City of Riviera Beach, near Florida Power & Light Co., where Poseidon Resources proposed to build a new plant.  Mr. Kelly never should have considered a request from a single commissioner but instead insisted on a memo from the commission board as a whole, before venturing into possibilities other than what he was directed to consider by the commission. The mayor should have corrected Mr. Kelly for acting on  a individual request from Commissioner Mitchell and then asked all commissioners If they would like to entertain the possibility of moving the water plant.

Privatization  of our city water is a false solution for municipal budget shortfalls. The two pro-business commissioners, Mitchell & Materio, seems to have decided, water isn’t so much an essential entitlement as a commodity to be traded like grain or crude oil. That mindset is prioritizing cost concerns over human rights. If citizens don’t put a stop to this move to privatize our water it will be corporatized and injustice will flow wherever they want it to go.

We can see the results of cities such as Lansing and Detroit Michigan, and Stockton California outsourcing their water with disastrous results. The Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton California waged a grass roots campaign that culminated in a legal victory to defeat the privatization of their municipal water utility that was outsourced by their short sighted city council. OMI-Thames water had to return control of the utility to Stockton as of March 2008.

Don’t get side tracked by the non stop red herrings on Clematis Street, in the forms of Screen on the Green, Ginger’s Dance Party, Thursday Night on Clematis Street and the Vegas Lights. We can live without cheap entertainment but we can’t live without water!