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Water Bucks

Water Profiteering creates resource inequities and high costs for American cities

Water is a natural resource, an essential requirement for life. During the past decade, American cities and citizens have been damaged by the deterioration of municipal water operations. But many of the solutions provided for new infrastructure are harming the very nature of democracy itself.

Our focus is to show the current American situation - how corporations, banks and other middle men (the lawyers) profit from failing water operations.

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In Michigan, both Detroit and Flint suffered high costs and poisonous contamination after the state governor sent “emergency managers” to deal with the cities’ debt. Detroit’s so-called “Water Bonds” had attached interest rate swaps that, when called, paid the banks over 50% of more than one billion dollar principal bond value. The bankers were paid out hundreds of millions of dollars for dubious fees and termination charges. Lawyers managing the Detroit bankruptcy were paid $1000 per hour. Meanwhile, unemployed people who could not afford high water bills suffered water shut offs. Instead of pursuing draconian measures in the Detroit bankruptcy, the Michigan government should have first decided on a just management strategy. But it did not.



Bayonne NJ and Middletown PA made concessions for water management funded by KKR & Co, L.P., a notorious, high return, private equity funder. In all cases, higher water rates were imposed, and have resulted in hardships for low income and retired workers. City governments should be obliged to pursue public solutions before resorting to high-cost private investor solutions, but they are not.

This film is intended to counter aggressive marketing of the benefits of private public partnerships for infrastructure development. We want to re-frame the mainstream discourse about the benefits of privatization. American cities need to explore many aspects of city management, especially now as many cities are burdened with high debt, unemployment, dwindling tax base and aging infrastructure. And there is pressure from the Trump administration for privatization of heretofore “public” operations. We want to encourage our audience be become engaged in local government operations that protect them, not settle for schemes that make money for private interests.

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Your donations will pay for interviews, graphics, edit and archival footage. Please help get this message out. Help make clean affordable water is a human right in America.


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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts