Public Water Jeopardized by Private Interest
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, issued the following statement Nov. 9 regarding the contract between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Veolia Water:
"Unfortunately, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) efficiency contract with international corporation Veolia Water, announced yesterday, represents a successful first attempt by the company to infiltrate a municipal water utility using its new strategy in the U.S. Key to Veolia’s strategy is the pursuit of performance based contracts instead of operation and management contracts.
“Consumers should know that Veolia has spent at least $75,000 lobbying the DEP’s procurement department since March.
“This deal is bad for consumers, as Veolia could recommend changes that undermine customer service or sacrifice New York City’s water quality. Many of the strategies that private water companies use to reduce costs and generate profit come at the expense of service quality. Veolia may use shoddy materials, skimp on treatment chemicals and upkeep, and cut back the workforce, thereby slowing response times to maintenance needs, customer service requests and emergencies.
“Rather than cutting a deal with Veolia, the city should have instead explored a public-public partnership to boost efficiency. By partnering with other public entities, nonprofit organizations or labor unions, cities have saved millions of dollars while improving services and retaining local control. Compared to contracts with private entities, these public-public partnerships usually have lower transaction costs and are more cost-effective and reliable.
“Many communities have wisely resisted giving control of their water and sewer systems to private water corporations whose interests do not necessarily align with the public good. Fortunately, this opposition has forced Veolia and other private water companies to pursue more restricted contracts, but even these narrower arrangements warrant public scrutiny.”
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Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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