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Water privatization conflict in Stockton, CA, USA

Stockton's water wars end with victory for publicly owned water


Stockton, CA is one of many cities across the United States that have faced the threat of water privatization. Mayor Gary Podesto played a heavy role in pushing the contract through city council, however local residents fought back to successfully put water back into the hands of the municipal utility.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Water privatization conflict in Stockton, CA, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:California
Location of conflict:Stockton
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

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:250,000-285,000
Start of the conflict:01/10/2002
End of the conflict:17/07/2007
Company names or state enterprises:Thames Water from United Kingdom - Part of the OMI-Thames joint venture that won the Stockton water contract
Operations Management International (OMI) from United States of America - Part of the joint venture (OMI-Thames)
Relevant government actors:Stockton City Council, State of California, California Environmental Protection Agency (California EPA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Public Citizen, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Citizens were able to successfully stop the privatization contract through a lawsuit for failure to comply with environmental regulations after attempts to prevent the contract failed.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Concerned Citizens Coalition of Stockton v City of Stockton filed April 2005
[click to view]

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

[1] Water Privatization in Stockton, CA: Backgrounder written by Water for All- U.S. Network to Keep Water as a Public Trust
[click to view]

[2] Price of Privatization: Stockton, CA_ Food and Water Watch
[click to view]

[3] Lessons of Stockton's Water War- Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman August 5, 2007
[click to view]

[4] Stockton, CA City Council Reverses Water Privatization
[click to view]

[5] Thirst- film description premiere July 13, 2004
[click to view]

[7] Stockton water deal stirs privatization ire- Associated Press
[click to view]

A Win in the Water War
[click to view]

Other documents

[6] The Price of Privatization: Stockton, CA Fact Sheet Published by Food and Water Watch
[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:1428
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