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No to privatization of water in New Orleans, USA

Water for all, not for profit. Citizens in New Orleans kick off Veolia and Suez from their commons


The city of New Orleans is one of many cities across the United States that have faced the threat of water privatization.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:No to privatization of water in New Orleans, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Louisiana
Location of conflict:New Orleans
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,500,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:480,000
Start of the conflict:01/06/1998
End of the conflict:01/10/2002
Company names or state enterprises:United Water from United States of America - One of the bidders
Veolia North America from United States of America - One of the bidders
GDF Suez (GDF Suez) from France
Suez Environnement from France
Veolia Environment from France
Relevant government actors:U.S. EPA, New Orleans city council, Sewer and Water Board
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Water for All Campaign, ACORN, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 100 , Food and Water Watch, Urban Conservancy, Public Citizen
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
car caravans, lawn signs, door-to-door education and rallies
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsNo guaranteed water savings as a result of privatization, which would not provide any improvements to the current state of the New Orleans water and sewer issues.
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:People came together quickly and effectively to stop a privatization deal before it even began, thus protecting themselves, their water and their community rights.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[3] Consent decrees Sewerage and Water Board
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Food and Water Watch Study: New Orleans, LA
[click to view]

[2] Proposed New Orleans Contract Operations
[click to view]

[4] United Water: Suez Environment's Poor Record in the United States
[click to view]

[5] Sewerage and Water Board Report of Proposal Evaluation Oct 14, 2002
[click to view]

[6] Water Privatization Sept 12 2002
[click to view]

[7] Bureau of Governmental Research report on the Charter Amendment March 2, 2002
[click to view]

[8] New Orleans Voters to Decide on Proposed Privatization of SWB Board- Water and Waste Digest March 5, 2002
[click to view]

[9] Faulty Pipes: Why Public Funding —Not Privatization —Is the Answer for U.S. Water Systems
[click to view]

[10] Privatizing Water- Worldwatch Institute Jan/Feb 2003
[click to view]

[11] Water Privatization: An Economic Solution or Disaster- The Green Bulldog April 24, 2013
[click to view]


Water Privatization: An Economic Solution or Disaster?
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1427
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