Jackson is not alone in suffering the ill-effects of corporate involvement in the provision of water. There has been growing resistance to water privatization in the United States in recent years, along with several high-profile remunicipalizations—where privately-run services have been brought back under public control. Three interconnected factors, which were seen to varying degrees in Jackson, are driving many of these local efforts: higher rates and costs under private operation; poor performance and service by private operators; and loss of local control over decision making.
While large-scale investments — like the $2 trillion infrastructure plan President Biden laid out on the campaign trail — are urgently needed to address the critical issues facing Jackson and other U.S. communities, the design of such programs will be critical. Those investments could either serve to lower racial and economic inequality, provide high-quality services, and preserve local control by supporting public and cooperative ownership structures; or they could supercharge privatization and line the pockets of large multinational corporations at the expense of the health and prosperity of local residents.