A return to public forms of administration in water supplies is a phenomenon that has been spreading globally. Over the past 15 years almost 235 cities around the world, among them Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur have either terminated or have desisted from renewing the contracts with private concessionary companies. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, for example, water delivery is, by a tradition, almost 100 percent public.
Public water and electricity are back in vogue. Yet many state-owned utilities are now undergoing corporatisation: they have legal autonomy and manage their own finances. Is this a positive development in the struggle for equitable public services? Or a slippery slope toward privatization?