News Feature | December 29, 2017

Atlantic City Halts Controversial Water Privatization Plan

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

atlantic city reg new

After months of consideration, officials say the water utility in Atlantic City, NJ, is not going to be privatized.

“The state announced it will not lease or sell the city’s water system to a private company, following more than a year of concern from residents and local activists about the fate of the Municipal Utilities Authority,” The Press of Atlantic City reported.

Under Governor Chris Christie, the state took over operation of much of the cash-strapped city. The state considered leasing the Municipal Utility Authority (MUA), the city’s water provider, to private companies, CBS Philly reported.

State designee of the city, former U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, released a statement regarding the decision to keep the water utility in public hands.

“After speaking with community members and listening to their concerns about a potential privatization of the Municipal Utilities Authority, the State recognizes the important role the MUA plays in the community at large and the visible pride that city residents and businesses have in their water system,” the statement said. “This allegiance was evident in this year’s petition drive in support of the MUA and in City Council’s vote to give city residents a say in any dissolution of the MUA. Therefore, the public can rest assured that the MUA will not be privatized by the state.”

Incoming Governor-elect Phil Murphy, a Democrat, opposed the MUA takeover, according to the Associated Press. Murphy came out against the takeover early in the campaign for governor, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

“As opposed to big-footing the community, I’d be working with the community,” Murphy said before he was elected. “And I think that gives you a better result.”

To read more about the pros and cons of keeping water utilities public visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Atlantic City Aerial Photography," Marco Verch © 2016, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/