Pennsylvania's state capital, facing costly improvements, looks to privatization of its water system

Pennsylvania’s state capital, facing costly improvements, looks to privatization of its water system

Let us know what you’ve heard about what’s happening in Harrisburg and other nearby efforts

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

Officials in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania last month released the first step in public considerations of a major change to the area’s water system: a Request for Letter of Interest from private companies interested in assuming ownership and responsibility for Capital Region Water.

Water systems in the United States are facing growing maintenance and expansion costs as aging infrastructure and inclement weather are requiring serious repairs to protect residents’ wellbeing. In Harrisburg, needed improvements to the city’s stormwater removal system are anticipated to cost more than $300 million over the next 20 years, and part of the motivation behind beginning the search for a new owner is the difficulty of financing these efforts.

In response, the current CRW Board of Directors issued a statement at the time of the RFI’s release.

“Given that most research shows rates increase approximately 60 percent when similar publicly-owned utilities are privatized, it is difficult, especially at this early stage, to understand how a plan like this benefits ratepayers,” they wrote. “When ownership and operational control of water and wastewater systems remain local, customers experience better customer relations, better rates and higher quality products and services.”

As part of MuckRock’s collaboration with Food & Water Watch, we’ve submitted a request to the City of Harrisburg to learn more about their plans and existing conversations with private water companies. You can learn more about the ongoing effort via our guide.

We still need your help learning more about other efforts to privatize ownership or operation of other water systems. Know of any developments near you? Let us know via the form below, and you’ll be helping a nationwide investigation.

Image by Jon Dawson via Flickr and is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0