Hastings Law Journal


The mere suggestion of private sector involvement in municipal water services generates acrimonious debate from virtually all sectors of society. So why did Stockton, California attempt "privatize" to its water services in the face of such opposition? Was the government "captured" by "water barons"? Or was the government making a smart business decision?

This Panel discussed the controversial issue of private sector participation in the water services sector, often deemed "privatization" by those who oppose it, through the example of the aborted agreement between OMI/Thames and the City of the Stockton. In so doing, the Panel addressed the larger policy issue of whether private sector participation in the management and operation of water services is an effective arrangement that decreases costs to the government and consumers, or a dangerous free market foray exploiting the world's most precious resource.

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