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Trump's threat to our water

We all need safe, affordable water to survive and live healthy lives. But private water corporations are threatening this most basic of human rights.

Pittsburgh's water system, for example, was managed by transnational corporation Veolia from 2012 to 2015. Under the corporation's management, the corrosion control chemical used to prevent lead contamination was switched -- without the state's Department of Environmental Protection giving it the OK. Now, the city's water has elevated lead levels, and the people -- especially the children -- of Pittsburgh face the potential for serious health risks.

Pittsburgh isn't alone in its water woes. When corporations profit from public water systems across the country, people pay the price: Skyrocketing rates for this most basic of necessities and risky corner-cutting can lead to serious health hazards, labor abuses, and infrastructure neglect. And now the Trump administration wants to open the door even wider for corporations like Veolia and Suez to wring a profit from our most basic human need.

You may have heard of Trump's infrastructure plan. During the campaign his team put forward a proposal to generate $1 trillion over 10 years to fix our aging water systems, roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructure projects. Sounds good on the surface -- until you dig into the plan and see that it is little more than a huge tax break for corporations to privatize critical infrastructure like our water systems. Since entering office, the president and his team have signaled that their infrastructure plan will rely heavily on so-called "public-private partnerships," which are just privatization by another name.

We know that we need to fix our aging public water infrastructure in this country -- and we know that the proven solution to protecting people's access to clean, safe water is democratically controlled, well-funded public water systems. From Lagos, Nigeria to St. Louis, Missouri, we've teamed up with local activists to ensure water systems stay in public hands.

With Trump's infrastructure plan as a looming threat, we're ramping up this campaign in a big way. We must secure solutions where our public water is treated as a common good for all, where people's human right to water isn't put at risk so corporations can turn a profit, where control of water stays in the community and isn't taken over by power-hungry corporations.

One of the first steps to building this movement is supporting an alternative to Trump's disastrous infrastructure agenda. Rep. John Conyers from Detroit has introduced the WATER Act (H.R. 1673), which would create a sustained source of robust funding for our public water systems, and it will do it by closing corporate tax loopholes.

Supporting the WATER Act is just the beginning of the nationwide, people-powered movement to oppose Trump's attempt to turn over our key infrastructure to private corporations. In the coming months, corporate accountability action league members and lead activists across the country will be organizing to ensure members of Congress don't support any infrastructure plan that would push privatization. And, we'll build widespread support for reinvestment in public water infrastructure on the local and national level.

Let's send a strong message right out of the gate: Our water is not for sale.

Stay tuned for more ways to get involved in this campaign over the following weeks and months.

Lauren DeRusha Florez is Associate Campaign Director, Challenge Corporate Control of Water at Corporate Accountability International.

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