Veolia Withdraws from California Water Contract Bidding Following Outcry Against its Abuses of Palestinian Rights
Davis, California – The Davis Committee of Palestinian Rights (DCPR) is happy to report that Veolia Water North America has withdrawn as a prospective bidder on a $325 million dollar project that would provide treated water from the Sacramento River to residents of Woodland and Davis in Yolo County, California. The announcement came at the December 20, 2012 meeting of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency (Water Agency), a joint powers authority between the University of California - Davis and the cities of Woodland and Davis. Veolia’s withdrawal followed efforts by citizens of Yolo County to prevent Veolia’s bidding due to the company’s involvement in the violation of Palestinian human rights.
Members of DCPR first contested the participation of Veolia Water as a prospective bidder in June 2011. Appearing before meetings of the Water Agency Board of Directors, DCPR provided substantial documentation of Veolia’s history of profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid policies in Palestine, as well as the dissatisfaction of public agencies throughout the U.S. for Veolia’s mismanaged operations and poor performance, environmental permit violations and fines, and failure to make good on promised improvements.
On April 19th, 2012, DCPR testified before the Board charging that Veolia did not meet the Water Agency’s ethical criteria. Veolia’s involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail Transit system, its operation of settler-only buses on segregated roads in the occupied West Bank for inhabitants of illegal Israeli settlements, and its operation of a landfill on land confiscated from Palestinians have been contested by Palestinians and international human rights activists throughout the last decade. Veolia has suffered the loss of more than $20 billion in contracts to date following this global outcry.
Within the U.S., the Friends Fiduciary Corporation, which handles investments for hundreds of U.S. Quaker institutions, recently divested from Veolia following requests by Quakers concerned about the violation of Palestinian rights. In December 2012 the City of St. Louis voted to suspend approval of a contract with Veolia Water until it completed an investigation of Veolia’s controversial labor, environmental, and human rights practices. There are ongoing campaigns protesting Veolia Transportation public contracts in Sonoma County and Los Angeles, CA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; and beyond. The state-wide California Israel Divestment Campaign calls on CalPERS public pension system to divest from Veolia Environnement, Caterpillar and Elbit Systems.
Bids were initially due in December 2012, but following outcry from citizenry regarding the large impact of the project’s capital cost upon resident’s water bills, the City Council decided to postpone the due date and appoint a citizens’ advisory committee to investigate rate alternatives, revisit the water supply need-assessment, and consider other water procurement options. Veolia was the only company to withdraw from bidding.