Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that some countries have turned over public water supplies to private companies, effectively denying local communities much-needed access? -- J. Johnson, Lancaster, PA
Water is such an important part of life that it has long been regarded as a public good worth entrusting only to public entities. But given the mixed track record of municipal, regional and national governments to properly manage water resources, outsourcing to private companies is becoming more common. But critics of such privatization point out that the end result for consumers is not always so positive.