Monday, June 05, 2006

American Water vs. FLOW
Last year, Felton, Calif., a community of 6,000 in the Santa Cruz Mountains, mobilized its troops, went up against California American Water, a subsidiary of American Water Works, and won the first round in an effort to acquire its local water system.

Over three months, 60 volunteers visited every house in Felton three times, answering questions about why the water company should be publicly owned and what the financial impact of such a move would be.

California American launched a counter-campaign, saying the company was a good corporate citizen that delivered a good product and that property owners wouldn't save any money if the water district was publicly owned.

In the end, the community overwhelmingly voted to impose a property tax of between $600 and $700 per property owner to raise money to finance condemnation of its water system.

The same themes -- a wronged corporation defending itself and a band of citizens struggling against deep corporate pocketbooks -- have become standard in campaigns and water battles in towns across the country.