People’s Water Project
Spotlight: Building local and national power through the People’s Water Project
The wastewater system in Norristown, Pennsylvania was in danger of being privatized. But local activists at Norristown Opposes Privatization Efforts (NOPE), who were fighting to keep it public, had a powerful network of support behind them. Grassroots organizations from around the country jumped in to help with media contacts, rapid response actions, and more. It worked—the privatization deal failed, and the brand-new People’s Water Project demonstrated just how powerful a coordinated national movement challenging water privatization can be.
The water privatization industry is highly coordinated, well-resourced, and determined to make as much profit as possible through its control of our water. The People’s Water Project is the people’s answer: a highly coordinated, highly effective, nationwide coalition that is thwarting the aims of water privatizers and fighting for robust public investment in our water systems.
“In New Orleans, we know that water justice and climate justice are inseparable. Improving our public water infrastructure—free of corporate control—is a critical part of how our communities can be resilient within the climate crisis. Co-leading the People’s Water Project with Corporate Accountability and others is a powerful way to address this issue. We are building power with organizations nationwide to challenge water privatizers and secure public water systems that provide equitable access and are accountable to Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.”
JESSICA DANDRIDGE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE WATER COLLABORATIVE OF GREATER NEW ORLEANS
The People’s Water Project coalition was created only months before under the leadership of Corporate Accountability, Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), Food & Water Watch, and the NOLA Water Collective. It is the first and only nation-wide coalition in the U.S. that focuses on the intersections of water justice: Ensuring safe, affordable water for all people and protecting water as a public good against threats of privatization.
The idea for this coalition was born from our work in the No Shutoffs Coalition, where we saw many organizations wanted and needed to campaign collectively to increase our impact in advancing water justice. We knew that to do so effectively, we had to keep the issue of corporate control of water at the forefront. So, we and our allies built the People’s Water Project from the ground up—no small feat during a pandemic.
We began with 15 participating organizations—but quickly grew to more than 150 in our network. These organizations are primarily local, grassroots, and accountable to the demands of people of color in their communities. They represent all the regions of the U.S. while challenging the common problem of privatization. This enables all of us to build enormous power behind both local and national campaigns. For example, the coalition is collaborating with partners in Flint to keep the spotlight on the continuing water crisis in that city, as well as supporting communities from California to Florida in demanding an end to water shutoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, coalition members played a pivotal role in securing 74 members of Congress to co-sponsor the national Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity, and Reliability (WATER) Act and moving more than 500 organizations to endorse this critical piece of legislation.
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