photo: the tower of Agbar in Barcelona
Great news from Barcelona! For the first time, a large majority of the Barcelona City Council supports ending the private management of water in the city. Barcelona En Comú believes that water is a human right, a basic service and a common good that should be under public, democratic control. Barcelona En Comú’s motion to remunicipalize the city’s water service has been supported by an absolute majority of the City Council
On Friday, November 25th, Barcelona En Comu presented a motion to take back direct public management of the water cycle, one of the main promises of our manifesto. This proposal was also one of the most popular among citizens in the participatory process carried out to define the Municipal Action Plan (the plan that guides city policy).
All the leftist groups of the Barcelona City Council voted in favor of the motion, meaning that the government can move forward with its plan to remunicipalize the water service in the metropolitan area. The water service is currently in the hands of the mixed society that controls distribution in the 23 municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), of which Agbar is the majority shareholder. The council also approved a similar motion by the CUP Barcelona.
Eloi Badia, Councilor for Presidency, Water and Energy, said that “today an absolute majority has voted more transparency, higher service quality, and lower tariffs. Today is a historic moment because a majority of the council has said that things must change.”
Savings for the city and savings for citizens
According to data from the Court of Auditors, public management is 18% cheaper and results in losses that are 23% lower and investments that are 18% higher. A comparison of water tariffs in Catalan municipalities indicates that private management is 25% more expensive than public management.
These savings would obviously mean a reduction in tariffs. Badia has said that water bills could be reduced by at least 10%, 38.7 million euros in total. 29M € could be saved from industry profits and 9.7M € from the knowledge levy. “The best social rate is one that does not include unnecessary expenses. We must respond to neighbors who can not face bills that have risen 85% in the last 10 years,” he added.
This process is based on precedents in large cities such as Paris, Berlin and Naples that have demonstrated the advantages of having a service under 100% public management, as well as in Catalan towns such as Arenys de Munt and Montornès del Vallès.
This is the beginning of a path that can be long and complex. Barcelona En Comú will continue to work for public services and the common good of all citizens.