Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, March 3

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics
« Op-Ed: Injustice Toward the Disabled Community is Everyone's Problem Public Meetings to be Held For North Lake Shore Drive Study »

Privatization Tue Jul 16 2013

Proposed Bill Paves Way for Water Privatization Boom in Illinois

Water resource management, with impacts sweeping across public health, food production, security, energy, industry, and environmental sustainability, is one of the most consequential economic and societal drivers today.

Legislation currently on Governor Quinn's desk could dramatically alter the way Illinois manages its own water resources. House Bill 1379 would allow Illinois American Water and Aqua Illinois, two of the state's largest private water companies, to expedite acquisitions of municipal water systems and increase customer rates to fund their expansion.

Lawmakers claim easing restrictions on water and sewage system outsourcing is a pragmatic way for cash strapped municipalities across the state to save money on utility management.

Critics of the proposed legislation insist water and sewage privatization is a dangerous gamble with an essential public resource that will cost Illinois residents.

Non-profit water advocacy group Food and Water Watch explains that multinational water corporations are beholden to stockholders, not the public they serve, which inevitably limits transparency and public accountability. This can result in problems like unequal water and sewage services, because privately owned water utilities are prone to "cherry-pick" profitable, high-volume service areas and neglect low-income areas where lower volume and bill collection problems hinder profitability.

Opponents also criticize private water corporations for instituting steep consumer rate-hikes. Food & Water Watch reports that private water utilities charge 33 percent more for water and 63 percent more for sewer service, on average, than local government utilities.

While HB 1379 supporters hold steadfast to cost-effective arguments for this impetus to overhaul water privatization in Illinois, the state's record of privatization, thus far, seriously calls into question the wisdom of that position.

From the Illinois State Lottery and state tollways, to the Chicago Skyway and parking meters, privatization contracts have not proven to be good deals for the people or the governments of Illinois.

As global freshwater becomes increasingly scarce, the ramifications of selling off public water resources could go far beyond what Illinois legislators have really considered. Now, more than ever, the importance of ensuring quality, public interest based management of this diminishing resource cannot be overstated.

HB 1379 could become law any day now. Opponents encourage concerned Illinois residents to tell Gov. Quinn to veto the proposed legislation and stop water privatization.

GB store
GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15