Posted tagged ‘Bechtel’

sludge update: from the bay area to the globe

December 5, 2009

The New York Times recently ran this story about a fight over privatizing sewage treatment in Novato, California. In September, local government decided to turn over sewage treatments to Veolia, one of the world’s largest water companies, based in Paris. Problem is,  both the city of Novato and Veolia have, in separate cases, been investigated for illegally dumping sewage into San Fransisco Bay. Veolia found itself snared in a couple of lawsuits, while the EPA raided the Novato water works searching for bureaucratic evidence (paperwork) of dumping. A local NIMBY insurgency has risen up, much like in our previous posts about Synagro and Cochabamba. Veolia also shows up (along with Bechtel and “disconcerting echos of Cochabamba”) in this post from Irish Eco Site The Local Planet, which asks “is there hidden profit in your water?”

So here is yet another story about a global water processing giant, committed on paper to sustainability, but closely watched by citizens and regulators. Regulators are concerned about the practice of illegal dumping, and citizens add concerns about California’s failing state budget, higher utility costs, and loss of local control and local jobs.

All of this is just another round of the same water wars. In this latest round, giant global corporations like Veolia, Suez, Bechtel and Synagro compete to scoop up as many fresh water and waste water processing and distribution gigs as they can, as more and more of the globe’s water is privatized. Privatization, in this case, is deeply connected with globalization. When French companies like Suez and Veolia are snatching up water contracts in California and Bolivia, we should be asking why, just like citizens in Novato are.