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[box] With the occasion of the world water day, EDEYA (Federation of Municipal Water & Sewage Companies of Greece) released an announcement where it is states its actions, it refers to the remunicipalization trend that is strong in all Europe regarding water and sanitation services and takes a position for the public character of water management. [/box]
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Republication from Eleytheria Newspaper published in Larissa, city of EDEYA headquarters
Translation SAVEGREEKWATER team
“Procedures for the return of water management operations to public (state or municipal) control have been on the rise during the last years. Private management of water has both led to a substantial increase of its price as well as to a lowering of the quality of offered services.” So states the Union of Municipal Water and Sewage Companies (EDEYA) in an announcement, signed by its Chairman (George Marinakes, Mayor in Rethymnon), and made on the occasion of the International Day for Water.
Said announcement continues: “Since 1980 Water Supply, Sewage and Waste Management to almost half of the Greek Population have been run by some 130 municipal companies (DEYA). Such companies have managed to overcome their teething problems and already constitute a dynamic arm of the public sector as far as Water Management and Environmental Protection are concerned.”
According to EUREAU (European Federation of National Association of Water and Waste Water Services) through their 30 years of existence the DEYAs have evolved to effective and flexible organizations with competent staffs and employees and, through investments of some € 8,5 billion, created and operate several Water Supply and Sewage Networks and Plants for Waste Management similar to those operating in the most technologically advanced countries of the western world.
Everyone knows that the Water Companies of Athens (EYDAP) and Thessaloniki (EYATh) have been earmarked for privatization. So everyone shall ask themselves the question: do we really need privately owned Water and Sewage companies?
Strong arguments for keeping such companies public in Greece and elsewhere are:
- Water Supply and Sewage services are directly connected and absolutely necessary for human survival as well as for human health. Keeping these under public control at least guarantees that issues such as public safety and environmental protection will not be overlooked.
- In most of the world’s richest countries (USA, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden etc) Water Supply and Sewage are run by public companies
- Even though water may have a financial and environmental value its value as a means of living shall not be left to be regularized by the markets. Water is obtained through natural sources in patterns unstable, uncontrolled and impossible to guarantee; the intricacies of its management for the common good can only be met by organizations not having as a target the increase of their profits.
The DEYAs operate having as their target the effective management of water resources, never aiming to higher profits obtained through an increase in water consumption. Especially during periods of draught public water supply companies (in stark contrast to private ones) aim rather to obtaining a decrease in consumption instead of increasing the prices of offered services.
Internationally the tendency is towards returning water management, previously granted to private companies, to public and municipal institutions as happened for example in Paris, France. Private water management has led to price increases and quality deterioration, which led the citizens in several countries to openly oppose continuation of such practices (plebiscites in Italy and Austria, European Citizens Initiative etc)
During the last 30 years the DEYAs have successfully responded to the task set to them, creating modern and functional water supply and sewage systems throughout the Greek countryside, which are comparable to those run by more advanced and richer countries in the European Union and Europe in general. Of course they have faced, and are still struggling against, economical and organizational issues not of their doing but rather due to the vagueness of the legal background they have been created on and must operate to, as well as the financial issues endemic to operations in the Greek State. Still they managed to operate independent of the central government and kept their original character as real public service institutions, while at the same time they effectively managed water supply and contributed to the protection of the public health and the environment without costing a single € to the State Treasury.
The financial crisis forced onto Greece shall not be an excuse for the transfer of water supply and sewage to private institutions as such cannot in any way offer any guarantee that public health and environmental protection will take first place versus their profits.
The financial strains Greece is forced to operate in shall instead constitute a chance for the modernization, the rationalization of the structure and the operations and the financial purging of public/municipal water and sewage companies. Such companies and the people working in them shall themselves strive to become more effective and increase the quality of services offered to the public.
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