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<nettime> Terrassa re-communalizes the city's water supply
Felix Stalder on Wed, 6 Sep 2017 15:17:49 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Terrassa re-communalizes the city's water supply

This is part of larger struggles going on across Europe to regain public
control over infrastructures, mainly waged at the city level. Terrassa
is a mid-sized town (220'000 inhabitants), some 20 kilometers north of

This announcement, translated by the friendly neural network over at
deepl.com, is interesting both in terms of the resistance of the private
company which lost the license, but also in detailing how it's not a
simple question of ownership, but of recreating public institutions for
the 21st century, aiming to pay attention in equal measures to workers
rights, universal provision and quality of service.



This Thursday, the plenary session of the Terrassa City Council will
approve a new public management model for the city's water supply
service. This is a very important event, given that for 75 years this
service has been managed by the same private company. This is
undoubtedly very good news for the general interest of the city, since
public water management will make it possible to turn the page on a
period characterized by an opaque private management without public
control. A new stage is therefore beginning in which transparency and
public control must take place to ensure that water is managed as a
human good and not as a private business and that its management
therefore benefits the entire citizenry.

This milestone cannot be explained without the Taula de l' Aigua de
Terrassa. They are the ones who put the objective and debate on the
city's political agenda. This is an objective that we have assumed the
municipal groups of TeC, ERC and CUP since the beginning of the current
mandate, achieving that the PSC finally joined the defense of public
management. We have thus obtained a large political majority in the
Plenary of the City Council with 20 of 27 councillors.

The route to get here has not been easy. Once the concession ended on 9
December 2016, the concessionary company Mina, currently controlled by
the multinational company Agbar, chose not to recognise that the service
is owned by the City Council, and not to accept that Terrassa's City
Council was sovereign to decide what management model it wanted. And in
this way, it decided to make the decision-making process of the new
management model more difficult, more difficult, more difficult and more
difficult. Its objective was, and this was explicitly proposed, that the
City Council reach an agreement to create a joint venture with them,
avoid public bidding and thus continue to do business with a common good
such as water. At the moment, despite the end of the concession period,
Mina refuses to hand over all the documentation requested by the Town
Hall and threatens to claim a million-dollar compensation, which it
would obviously abandon if an agreement were reached. So far, it has
already filed four contentious appeals. Obviously, any individual has
the right to defend what he or she believes. It must be made clear,
however, that it will be doing so in reaction to the refusal of its
proposal for continuity and that it is doing so in order to defend only
its private interest and to the detriment of the general interest.
Acting in a reactionary way and hiding information, Mina has shown that
the normality and goodness of its management was only apparent, and has
justified what many of us have defended from the outset: the only
management model that can guarantee the total transparency of the
service and its public control is public management.

With the document that will be approved in the Plenary, fruit of a
rigorous and pioneering work by the municipal technicians and jurists,
it has been demonstrated that a public management model can take over
and improve management, incorporating the current workers with their
current conditions and at the same time be more economically efficient
than a private management, being able to allocate the current private
benefits to the improvement of the quality of service.

Public management will allow us to achieve new objectives and
fundamental challenges: guaranteeing universal access to water with
which all people have a minimum vital consumption; the creation of a new
consultative and propositional body, with broad citizen representation
and the various agents of the city, which means a new way of
understanding participation in municipal public management; the creation
of new spaces and channels that guarantee access to information in an
easy and comprehensible way to ensure maximum transparency of the city's
water resources.

We welcome the fact that in Terrassa we are moving towards a new agenda
of urban policies that place the public management of common goods as
one of its priorities. That means a change from the one we have lived in
our city in the past and give priority to people and place them in front
of the business of a few. In this sense, Terrassa can be an example for
a new era of municipal policies. From Terrassa in Comú we will continue
working and doing everything possible so that all the challenges and
opportunities that the public management of water that we are now
initiating can be achieved.

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