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"Water is ours" citizens' initiative moves to Parliament

The initiative hopes legislation can be introduced to prevent the privatisation of Finland's water supply.

Vettä kaadetaan juomalasiin.
The preservation of water supply as municipal property can also be seen as safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens, the initiative said. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

A citizens' initiative aimed at preventing the privatisation of Finland's water supply will be debated in Parliament after collecting more than 89,000 signatures, well over the required 50,000 threshold.

The "Water is ours" (Vesi on meidän in Finnish) initiative also received unanimous support from Parliament's Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

The committee proposes that any resultant legislation should ensure that publicly-owned water supply operations remain under the ownership and control of municipalities.

At present, there are guidelines on Finland's water supply and how it is organised, but there are no legal provisions defining the ownership of water supply.

The citizens' initiative was launched by a number of active members of the Left Alliance Party from across Finland, including Olli Kohonen from Oulu.

"The privatisation of water supply in the world has led to bad results, and bad results only," Kohonen said. "Prices have risen, the level of service has suffered, and the environment has suffered. Health security, which is becoming increasingly important today, could be a problem if water supply were given to an operator who wants to make a profit from it."

Kohonen initially began the initiative after learning about the City of Jyväskylä's plans to sell a minority stake in its water and energy company last year.

He said he believes the citizens' initiative will come before Parliament soon, perhaps even before the summer recess begins in July.

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