Water Cost and the Human Right to Water


Water infrastructure in much of the world was built during confident eras of centralized, well-funded states.  With these eras behind us, pipes, treatment plants, and water storage facilities leak, languish and crumble.  How to keep infrastructure up to date? How to convey water to and from residents and business? How should repairs be financed? Who should pay for innovative or necessary infrastructural updates?

These complex questions transpire in a time when private corporations leverage their capital in order to gain ownership of water itself or to turn a profit for their investors. Some boosters call these efforts “public-private partnerships.”  What do the public and private interests, respectively, gain from such partnerships? What are the impacts and what are the risks?

Often, before people have a chance to process shifts in ownership from publicly-held utilities to water corporations, they encounter a change in their water bills.  The question of who owns water is intimately tied to how much people pay to receive it.

Summit 2017 Working Group


The Water Costs and Human Right to Water Panel (May 10th, 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM) will explore the history and workings of Great Lakes water utilities, what it means to maintain public control of water and its delivery, the sites and effects of water privatization, global definitions of water rights, and what Great Lakes residents might expect in a federal infrastructure bill.  

Panelists include:

Facilitated by: