Missoula, Montana, USA
Missoula, Montana, scored a major victory for community ownership of public resources in August, 2016. The state's supreme court ruled that the city's use of its water system was 'more necessary' than its use by a private company. The city has been embroiled in a costly, years-long legal battle over control of its water supply. 'The city desired to own the water system that serves its residents because city officials believe a community's water system is a public asset best owned and operated by the public,' the judges wrote in their decision.
Apple Valley, California, USA
Since 2014 the Town Council of Apple Valley, located in Central California, has been determined to take back the town's water system -- Apple Valley Ranchos (AVR) -- because of excessive rate increases. The Council created a website explaining the need to reclaim the utility so as to provide a reliable and local source of water for Apple Valley's citizens. The Town Council encouraged debate by making available all reports from Council meetings, fact sheets about spending on audits, attorneys and public record requests, and clear and regular news updates. As a result, a survey showed that 73 per cent of the population supports the town's acquisition. Disregarding public opinion, the private operator AVR rejected the Council's offer to buy the water system. Soon after, in January 2016, AVR was bought by Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. In response, the municipality approved eminent domain action on the basis of compelling public interest and issued a formal condemnation to expropriate the private water company and remunicipalise the utility. The eminent domain action is expected to take several years.