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Contested water : anti-water privatization movements in Canada and the United States Robinson, Joanna L. 2010

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  CONTESTED WATER: ANTI-WATER PRIVATIZATION MOVEMENTS IN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES   by   Joanna L. Robinson   B.A., McGill University, 1997    A THESIS SUBMITTED  IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Sociology)          THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)   June 2010   © Joanna L. Robinson 2010   ii 
 Abstract  My dissertation compares two social movements opposed to water privatization in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Stockton, California, United States. While these movements emerged in response to similar global forces and institutions, they developed differently and had divergent outcomes. While the movement in Vancouver successfully prevented the privatization of local water services, the movement in Stockton failed to prevent water services from being privatized, although as a result of a legal challenge the private contract was eventually overturned. Through a qualitative comparative analysis of data from 70 in-depth digitally recorded interviews with movement actors, I identify the specific underlying pathways that explain how cognitive, structural and relational mechanisms combine to shape mobilization, including how activists frame grievances, respond to opportunities, and utilize social networks to achieve their goals. My analysis also illuminates how each of these mechanisms is altered by the interplay between global and local processes, including international institutions and economic opportunity structures. I identify four factors that explain mobilization emergence, trajectories and outcomes in the Vancouver and Stockton cases: 1) context-dependent socially constructed meanings of water, 2) differences in the use of frames, 3) differences in the nature of and responses to political opportunities 4) differences in the strength and cohesion of environmental-labour coalitions. The findings contribute to the sociological understanding of social change in a global era. By revealing how global processes are constituted and reconstituted by local social movements – as well as how they interact with frames, opportunities and networks – my research adds a more nuanced and complete understanding of the specific ways globalization is shaping social iii 
 movement mobilization on the ground. The creation of local solidarity – achieved through the presence of global connectors and the synthesizing of transnational and situated frames – demonstrates the potential for social movements to move beyond identity or class-based politics to a more broad-based and inclusive counter-hegemonic movement. The findings demonstrate that successful challenges and alternatives to neoliberal globalization will not necessarily come from movements operating at the transnational level, but rather from locally-situated movements that are connected globally but rooted in local communities.  iv 
 Table of Contents  Abstract............................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents............................................................................................................................iv List of Tables...................................................................................................................................v List of Figures.................................................................................................................................vi Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………....vii Dedication………………………………………………………………………………………...xi Chapter 1 Introduction: Anti-Water Privatization Movements in the Age of Globalization.……………………………………………………………………...1  Chapter 2 Globalization and Local Social Movements: A Framework for Comparing Anti-Water Privatization Movements....................................................................27  Chapter 3 Analyzing Resistance from Below: Research Methods.…....................................72 Chapter 4 The Meaning of Water: “The Commons” as a Socially Constructed Discourse.……………………………………………………………………….104  Chapter 5 Constructing the Problem: Framing Strategies in Anti-Water Privatization Movements...........................................................................................................136  Chapter 6  Anti-Water Privatization Movements and the Political Process: Seizing Local and Global Opportunities.....................................................................................181  Chapter 7 Mobilizing against Water Privatization: Cross Movement Coalitions................238 Chapter 8 Conclusion: Theorizing the Dynamics of Local Social Movements in an Age of Globalization............................................................................................300  References....................................................................................................................................328  Appendix A: Methodology Background and Personal Reflection............................................357 Appendix B: UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board Certificate of Approval…………….403    v 
 List of Tables Table 1.1 Comparing Vancouver, British Columbia and Stockton, California………………...18 Table 3.1 Respondents’ Gender by City......................................................................................91 Table 3.2 Respondents’ Age Distribution by City.......................................................................92  Table 3.3 Respondents’ Marital Status by City............................................................................92 Table 3.4 Respondents’ Level of Education by City....................................................................93 Table 3.5 Respondents’ Employment Status by City...................................................................93 Table 3.6 Respondents’ Personal Income by City........................................................................94 Table 3.7 Respondents’ Household Income by City.....................................................................94 Table 3.8 Respondents’ Self-reported Ethnicity by City..............................................................95 Table 3.9 Interview Sample by Union Membership.....................................................................95 Table 3.10 Respondents’ Organizational Affiliation by City.......................................................96 Table 6.1 Comparison of Opportunity Type by City..................................................................228 Table A.1 Coding Node-Tree for “Globalization”......................................................................373  Table A.2 NVivo8 Analytic Coding Scheme..............................................................................374     vi 
 List of Figures Figure 2.1 A Dynamic Model of Contention in an Era of Globalization.……………………….49 Figure 7.1 Network Centrality in Vancouver..............................................................................281 Figure 7.2 Network Centrality in Stockton.................................................................................290 Figure 8.1 A Typology of Local Anti-Water Privatization Movements.....................................317   vii 
 Acknowledgements This dissertation would not have been possible without the help of many people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. First and foremost, I am grateful to my supervisor, David Tindall, whose encouragement and guidance from the initial idea to the final stages of the research project enabled me to develop a more rigorous analysis of contentious politics and environmental sociology. His feedback on my drafts helped improve the quality of the work. I am thankful for the opportunities he provided me throughout my graduate studies, from inviting me to collaborate on research and publishing as well as employing me as his research assistant on several projects. I also want to thank my two other dissertation committee members. Jennifer Chun has been enthusiastic about my work from the beginning, and I thank her for her guidance on the research design and data collection as well as for her valuable feedback on early drafts. Throughout my graduate studies Rima Wilkes has always supported my research. I appreciate her helpful feedback and advice on the initial proposal and early drafts and for helping me develop a more rigorous comparative design. I also thank the remaining members of my examination committee, Jamie Peck and Carrie Yodanis, for their insightful questions and feedback. I want to thank my external examiner David Pellow at the University of Minnesota for his careful reading of my dissertation, his enthusiasm for the contributions of my research findings and his sage advice for improving the final draft. I also want to thank the chair of my department defense, Sylvia Fuller, and the chair of my university examination, Kalevi Holsti. I especially want to thank my respondents who took time out of their busy lives to share their stories of activism. I was moved and inspired by their dedication to achieving social and environmental justice, and heartened by their commitment to building better communities. This viii 
 research would not have been possible without their generosity and willingness to meet with me for an interview. I am fortunate to have had the financial support of a Canada Graduate Master’s and Doctoral Scholarship awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) that provided the resources to allow me to complete my fieldwork, including travel to California, and to write my dissertation. I am grateful for the support and encouragement of other scholars at UBC. Ralph Matthews and Dawn Currie provided great feedback on my thesis proposal and supported my application to accelerate into the PhD program. I also thank Gerry Veenstra for his support over the years. Julian Dierkes provided important methodological insights and advice on my proposal, and helped me think through some of the more challenging dimensions of cross-national comparative research. I also want to thank Peter Dauvergne for his enthusiasm for and support of my current and future research. As an undergraduate student at McGill University, I was fortunate to learn from and be inspired by many accomplished scholars. In particular, I want to thank Prue Rains for supporting my decision to complete a graduate degree, and Karin Bauer, whose research on countermovements and radical politics was an inspiration for my research on globalization and social movements. I also want to thank Suzanne Staggenborg for introducing me to scholarship on contentious politics, supervising my honours thesis, and motivating me to complete a qualitative study of social movements. I am grateful for the support and mentorship of Kim Voss at the University of California, Berkeley, and look forward to working with her in the future. I also want to thank Jeffrey Cormier for his helpful feedback on my comprehensive exam on social movements and globalization. ix 
 I am very fortunate to have a wonderful network of friends who have helped me keep balance in my life during the last 5 years. I thank Alan Jacobs and Antje Ellermann for their constant support and friendship, and for the many adventures we have shared over the years. I am grateful to Shannon Daub and Ryan Blogg for their friendship; our great conversations and laughter over delicious meals and lazy days on Bowen Island have been a delight in my life. For the past 25 years, Juliette Pelletier has been my closest friend and has supported me through thick and thin, helping me keep perspective and always giving me a reason to laugh. I thank her for her friendship. Trish Winston was my second mother during my undergraduate years in Montreal, and I am truly grateful for her kindness and generosity. I am very appreciative of Barbara and Syd Bulman-Fleming for their support and encouragement. I also thank Kyla Tienhaara and Kyle Horner for their friendship; their global adventures and commitment to environmental justice are inspiring. I also thank Sam Jones and Pierre Koch for their friendship, and for opening their home to us during our visits to Toronto. Veronique Sardi remains a wonderful friend and one of my greatest champions, and I have enjoyed her frequent visits to Vancouver. I also greatly appreciate the support and friendship of my SPEC friends and colleagues Carole Christopher, Gerry Thorne, Dan Rogers, Tara Moreau and John Irwin whose passion for environmental justice is a constant source of inspiration. I also thank Catherine Bischoff, Mette Hoi, Janelle Martin, Jens de Gruyter, Tamara Smyth, Tommy Babin, Ken Hildebrand, Wendy Roth, Ian Tietjen, Amy Hanser, Nathan Lauster, Jane Ireland, Kathy Wittham, Jeremy Weinstein, Rachel Gibson, David Pinto-Duschinsky, and Molly and Ty Sterkel for their friendship and support.  My parents Cam and Helen Robinson have given me steadfast support and encouragement of my academic pursuits as well as unconditional love, generosity and friendship; x 
 I am truly fortunate to have such wonderful and supportive parents. I thank my sister Leslie for her friendship and for always believing in me even when I doubted myself. My sister Michelle has been one of my biggest champions throughout my life and I thank her for her love and friendship. I also want to thank my brother-in-law Charles for the many delicious meals over the years and for being such a wonderful host during our many trips to Ottawa. My nieces, Kate and Elise, and nephews, Georges and Graham, are a joy. I am thankful for the love and support of Toni and David Owen and my “auntie” Jean Vivian, who recently passed away, but whose generosity of spirit lives on in the hearts of those fortunate to have known her. I am grateful for her love and kindness and the many laughs and great visits over the years. I want to thank Lilly and Mo Zuberi and Anita and Sofia Zuberi and Steve Chase for their kindness and for welcoming me as part of their family. I am blessed to have two beautiful and wonderful daughters, Saskia and Naomi, who have given me so much joy and happiness. They have opened up my heart in ways I never imagined. I also thank them for napping, so I could write every day! Finally, my greatest thanks goes to my partner, Dan Zuberi, whose love, respect and friendship gave me the strength and confidence to complete this stage of my career. As my best friend, intellectual companion and wonderful father to our two children, he has been the constant source of strength and joy in my life. This project would not have been possible without his love and support. xi 
    For my parents, Campbell and Helen Robinson, who taught me the importance of fighting for a fair and just world. And for my daughters, Saskia and Naomi, the next generation of activists. 
 1 
 Chapter 1: Introduction: Anti-Water Privatization Movements in the Age of Globalization ______________________________________________________________________________  On a warm June evening in 2001, several hundred people attended a public meeting in Burnaby, British Columbia to voice their opposition to the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s (GVRD) plan to privatize the Seymour water filtration plant. As GVRD bureaucrats and elected officials waited inside the theatre to begin their presentation to the public, a group of activists made their way from the nearby skytrain station along the street towards the theatre. People chanted slogans and sang, while drums beat out a constant rhythm that grew louder as the crowd neared the entrance. Others carried banners with such slogans as “Keep our water public!” and “Don’t P3 in our water!” A ripple of blue – a theatre group, dressed in flowing blue costumes with faces painted blue and silver – snaked its way along the street. As they danced silently into the theatre and surrounded the GVRD representatives, they resembled a wave of water, flowing and moving in unison. “Those dancers were amazing,” said Amanda Jones1, one of the organizers of the anti-water privatization protest, as she described the scene. “I remember them dancing behind the Chair of the meeting, doing all these crazy movements right behind him with their costumes and their banner, and it was like his head was just going to spin off his neck. I mean the imagery was so fantastic. It was brilliant.” Amanda Jones is a community activist, and 37 year-old mother of two children, who has been involved in international human rights and social justice campaigns since she was a teenager. In 2001, she was working as a community organizer for a national social justice organization, the Citizens Action League, when she heard about a proposal by the Greater Vancouver Regional District’s Water Board to privatize the construction and operation of the 





























 




























 1 All of the names of individuals and organizations used in this study are pseudonyms to protect the identity of my respondents. 2 
 new Seymour water filtration plant in North Vancouver, a facility that provides over forty percent of the clean drinking water to the region. The privatization plans proposed by the GVRD came at a time when Amanda Jones had been working closely with local, national and global water activists to organize a major international water conference in Vancouver to be held later that year. She had also recently returned from Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she learned about the negative consequences of water privatization first-hand, including enormous rate increases and cut-offs in poor neighbourhoods that had sparked a mass uprising, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the private water contract. These experiences shaped her concerns about water privatization, and her belief that “water is life” and should be protected as part of the commons.2 Amanda Jones had only recently been hired by the Citizen’s Action League, and soon realized this was her first major campaign. She was excited and eager to use her background in activism to help mobilize a major opposition movement to water privatization. In response to the GVRD proposal, she and her colleagues quickly began compiling information about water privatization, including stories about the deleterious consequences from communities around the world and the negative track records of many of the major multi-national water corporations who were bidding for control of the region’s water. Because the Citizen’s Action League had a national water campaign and was involved globally in movements to protect water as part of the public domain, Amanda Jones could draw on the informational and material resources, social networks and frames from these national and transnational movements. Yet, at the same time, with her background in community activism, she was also able to tap into a broad based network 





























 




























 2
Although the type of contract proposed in Vancouver and Stockton is often referred to as a public-private partnership (P3), in this study I use the term privatization because it is how my respondents referred to the P3 proposals in their communities. Many respondents described using the term privatization strategically to counter what they saw as an attempt by their opponents to divert attention away from the issue of commodification of nature.
 3 
 of activists and organizations on the ground in Vancouver and the surrounding communities. Mobilizing wide public support was considered vital to the campaign. During our interview, she described the importance of working in coalition with other community organizations, How activism in general worked in Vancouver meant that we usually did most of our campaign organizing in coalition with others, and that was a really important piece of the work. And so we called a number of different organizations together that would have some kind of interest or expertise in the issue, like unions and environmentalists and anti-poverty groups, to see what we could do collectively. And we found people were really interested in the issue. There was also an international water conference being organized at the same time in Vancouver that had created a lot of buzz, and different organizations were working on their own water projects, so it was kind of a confluence of interests and timing that brought people together to get involved. So I would say it was a very broad initiative and it took many different forms. And that was one of the main reasons for our success.  Amanda Jones recognized the importance of broad-based coalitions for creating a powerful countermovement in response to the commodification of water. Because of their history working with organizations from diverse movement sectors, including environmental groups and labour unions, the Citizen’s Action League was instrumental in bringing together organizations with a stake in keeping water services in public hands. Many of the activists from these organizations had recently collaborated on anti-globalization and anti-trade campaigns. Their existing movement networks were instrumental for mobilizing a broad-based community coalition against water privatization that included labour unions, environmental and social justice groups.  Beyond these critical networks, the anti-water privatization movement in Vancouver was also shaped by the tactics, opportunities and frames provided by the broader anti-globalization movement. Activists utilized global narratives about water privatization, including emphasizing the threat to local democracy, accountability and community control from global economic institutions in order to mobilize public opposition to privatization and re-frame the way decision- makers viewed the issue. They also used disruptive and creative tactics designed to draw 4 
 attention to the importance of water as a source of life. “We put out flyers and did media work, but we also went out in costume on buses and the skytrain with information to try to bring people to the meetings,” explained Amanda Jones when describing the tactics used to mobilize the public and raise awareness of the dangers of water privatization. She continued, We were also strategic in what we did at the meetings. We planted people around the audience that were prepared to ask specific questions and we had some chants prepared and that kind of thing. And we decided that we really needed to take over the meetings because the GVRD had sat us all down like a bunch of students, totally contrary to popular education style, and they were going to tell us what the scoop was. You know, all of that attitude. So we felt we needed to direct the meeting from our point of view and let them know that we understood the issue perhaps better than they did. And we did that really successfully, and it shocked them.   
 Amanda Jones’ description reveals the well-planned and organized campaign by anti-water privatization activists in Vancouver to disrupt meetings and counter the pro-privatization arguments presented by the GVRD. While the meetings were noisy and disruptive, anti-water privatization activists drew on expertise demonstrating the risks from international trade agreements on the local control of resources and were strategic in presenting a unified message around trade and economic globalization. Amanda Jones described how the Citizens Action League was instrumental in bridging the concerns of diverse actors and organizations under the common rubric of threats from international financial and trade treaties. She explained, The [Citizens Action League] really worked from kind of the trade perspective and privatization issues were major themes, so our materials focused on that. But what we were able to do working with other groups was to show how trade and privatization issues were important for environmental issues and jobs and poverty issues. Everything just sort of came together around that concern. And you know that was really effective because in the end, that is what convinced the GVRD. That is why they changed their minds. They were really worried about losing control under NAFTA.  5 
 Anti-water privatization activists in Vancouver drew on pre-existing networks, tactics and frames to build a movement against water privatization, pointing to the risks from trade agreements to local democratic accountability and the capacity of municipal governments to regulate and protect environmental resources. This strategy was instrumental in facilitating widespread mobilization, while at the same time opened up opportunities at the political level for a favourable outcome. Ultimately, after a second, equally boisterous public meeting in North Vancouver that saw an even larger crowd turn out to oppose water privatization, the GVRD reversed their decision to contract out water services to a private corporation, citing concerns over the impact of trade agreements on their ability to regulate water services. In a brief but fierce campaign, the anti-water privatization coalition in Vancouver had succeeded in preventing the privatization of water and keeping water services under public control. Around the same time, a similar situation was developing in Stockton, California, where in the spring of 2001, a popular conservative mayor, backed by the majority on city council, announced plans to privatize the municipal wastewater treatment plant. In response to the proposal by the mayor and council, a coalition of citizens, representing environmental, labour and voter rights organizations came together to oppose water privatization. Many of the people involved in the anti-water privatization movement were unhappy with the mayor’s right wing agenda, and supported political campaigns opposing his re-election. This group of individuals included Bruce Owen, a retired businessman and board member of a local chapter of a national environmental organization and one of the founding members of the coalition steering committee. He described the opposition to privatization as a “natural fight” against the mayor and his “ultra conservative, anti-government” position. 6 
 The coalition in Stockton soon began holding meetings to organize a campaign against the privatization of water services. The steering committee decided to focus their efforts on presenting their arguments to the Stockton city council, and began organizing delegations to speak at council meetings. According to Bruce Owen, the strategy was to present a “rational and reasonable argument to the mayor”. “Our first priority was to gather the facts”, he said, explaining that the coalition wanted “to make sure that we had a valid analysis to present to council.” As part of their strategy to appear “rational” and “professional” some members of the steering committee opposed the desire by other coalition members – union members and youth activists, in particular – to utilize more disruptive tactics, including street protests and sit-ins. Bruce Owen felt that the “radical” element of the coalition and their focus on “candlelight vigils” would detract from the professional approach of the steering committee, and result in the dismissal of their arguments by the mayor and council. He described how the steering committee wanted to focus on the democratic accountability of elected officials and felt that disruptive tactics would work against them. He said, We needed to be professional and business-minded. We felt we couldn’t risk being seen as too radical or as working for the unions. Although they were involved, we felt that that aspect of the movement had to be kept in the background. We did a lot of research, and we presented the facts at council meetings. We focused on the lack of accountability of the mayor and also on pressing for a public referendum on the privatization issue. We specifically chose the legal route over the philosophical route – you know water is life and all that – so we wouldn’t be seen as unprofessional or too radical. That was important.  Bruce Owen and other leaders of the anti-water privatization coalition felt that they should avoid presenting an ideological stance against water privatization, and thus focused their efforts on a factual cost-benefit analysis rather than a more general moral argument against the commodification of water. In fact, despite their opposition to water privatization in Stockton, not all of the activists involved in the movement, including Bruce Owen, were philosophically 7 
 opposed to water privatization, with many of them describing its suitability for other communities who lack infrastructure and expertise, including cities in the developing world and smaller communities in the United States. The conservative approach by the movement in Stockton shaped the tactics used by the coalition. They focused their efforts on mounting a ballot initiative that, if successful, would have forced a referendum on the decision to privatize any municipal public service. Yet the negative focus of the campaign created divisions between elected officials and anti-water privatization activists, and failed to create openings for the movement to block the outsourcing of water services. Despite gathering enough signatures to have the ballot initiative accepted, the city council moved up the vote on privatization two weeks before the scheduled ballot initiative. As a result, the Stockton wastewater treatment plant was turned over to the private sector even though, two weeks later, the ballot initiative requiring voter approval on all privatization contracts successfully passed.  The tactical decision to focus on a voter-driven ballot initiative also created divisions within the coalition. Many of the union members who were involved in early mobilization efforts felt alienated by the focus on voter rights over the risks from corporate control of water. While the coalition steering committee emphasized local democratic process, the plant employees – who feared losing their jobs under a private contract – felt it was important to focus on the negative track record of multinational water firms in terms of job losses and water quality. Still other members of the coalition stressed the “global” nature of the problem and wanted to draw attention to the deleterious consequences of water privatization in other communities around the world as well as the risks to local democracy from international trade agreements. 8 
  Yet Bruce Owen and others on the steering committee felt that these arguments would shift attention away from what they believed was the critical issue: the democratic accountability of the municipal council. Bruce Owen felt that heavy involvement by the union representing the plant workers would be a “conflict of interest”. Although he appreciated their support for the cause, he felt that the coalition should remain neutral and not overtly support the union in their efforts to safeguard their jobs. He also felt that a focus on the global nature of the problem would detract from the “local” nature of the struggle and the importance of focusing on municipal electoral politics. He described how the conflict between the more radical elements of the coalition and those who advocated a less disruptive tactical approach ultimately prevented the movement from blocking privatization because it allowed the city a significant head start. “We failed because we started too late”, he explained. “By the time we got organized to do the initiative the city was already doing things in smoke-filled back rooms that the public was not aware of. Meanwhile we were busy holding vigils. While we are off doing that, the city is busy making plans in secret. That hurt our cause for sure.” Despite a concerted effort by a coalition of union members, environmentalists, and voter rights advocates to block privatization plans by the city of Stockton, divisions within the movement in the choice of tactics and framing strategies failed to generate widespread mobilization. The persistent negative attacks on the mayor and council also constrained the movement’s ability to create openings for public input on the outsourcing of water services by reinforcing the division between authorities and activists. As a result, the movement was unable to block water privatization. Yet, rather than giving up in the face of defeat, the coalition fought back by mounting a legal challenge to privatization, arguing that the city of Stockton violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not requiring a full environmental assessment 9 
 of the proposed infrastructure upgrades to the municipal wastewater utility plant. In 2008, after a costly five year legal battle, the anti-water privatization coalition ultimately prevailed over the City of Stockton and succeeded in overturning the private contract.  Comparing Social Movements Against Water Privatization  The stories of Amanda Jones and Bruce Owen, two activists involved in the anti-water privatization movements in their communities – Vancouver, British Columbia, and Stockton, California – are reflective of the widespread opposition to water privatization that continues to play out in many communities around the world. Yet the stories from these two activists also demonstrate that, despite responding to similar threats, the movements in Vancouver and Stockton evolved differently. Why? This study answers that question by examining the mechanisms and processes that shape movements resisting neoliberal globalization on the ground. My aim is not simply to indentify the conditions that explain differences across similar movements, but also to illuminate the pathways by which these types of movements can both successfully resist global corporate hegemony and shape social policy at the community level. While the power of international economic institutions is increasing, the forms of resistance at the local level offer hope for creating alternatives to economic globalization, in part because they have clear targets and channels for participatory democracy. The responses by activists in this study demonstrate that neoliberal globalization is not inevitable, and that resistance and alternative visions to global hegemony are made possible through the power of social movements and the strengthening of local democracy.   10 
 Contested Water: Neoliberal Hegemony and Counterhegemony Water is unique as a natural resource. No human can survive without access to water. At the same time, increasing demand and environmental threats – including industrial pollution, agriculture, urbanization, over-consumption and climate change – have given rise to a global water crisis (Meinzen-Dick and Ringler 2008). Much of Africa, Australia, the American Southwest and the Middle East are currently facing serious issues of scarcity and conflict over access to fresh water. As water levels and quality decline, demand for water is increasing and the world’s capacity to meet the needs of current and future generations is endangered. Currently, over 1.1 billion people do not have regular access to fresh water, while over 2.5 billion lack access to sanitation services (Catley-Carlson 2003). The massive increase in urbanization worldwide has put tremendous pressure on municipal water systems to provide both clean drinking water and sanitation services to the billions of people in need. In many cities, lack of infrastructure and high levels of poverty prevent access to clean drinking water or sanitation services for billions of people around the world (Jehl 2004). In urban areas globally, continued disinvestment in municipal infrastructure has left cities grappling with how to pay for critical upgrades to water service infrastructure in concert with growing pressure to outsource water services to private sector firms (Tal 2006). In the era of neoliberal globalization the global water crisis is largely being dealt with through the increased commodification of water and privatization of water services, reflective of the growing shift of capital into new social and ecological domains (Roberts 2008). Neoliberalism – often called economic globalization or simply globalization – emerged in the 1970s with the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. and is characterized by a rolling back of the Keynesian welfare state and a shift to market-oriented 11 
 economic policies (Harvey 2005, Tickell and Peck 2003). These policies – which are oft