Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


This paper investigates the ways in which water remunicipalization and the natural right to clean drinking water has affected the livelihood of the population of Atlanta, Georgia. Looking at the failures of water privatization efforts across the globe within the context of the ecosystem resources that water provides, I show in chapter 1 that the privatization of water is antithetical to the core goals of water supply, and an increasingly pressing issue as climate change produces increasing water scarcity. In chapter 2, I analyze the efforts of utility privatization in general through the lens of political science, both in motivations, reasonings, and philosophies as well as the real-life outcomes that these efforts have on both institutions and individuals. In chapter 3, I examine the environmental philosophies surrounding water rights and the ways in which the natural entitlement of life to water is expressed in philosophical understandings and everyday life. In chapter 4, I apply these understandings to the case study of Atlanta, Georgia, USA, a city that attempted to privatize their water utility at the end of the 1990s. After a disastrous effort, the city remunicipalized less than five years into their twenty-year contract with private water utility United Water. In chapter 5, using lessons learned from the case study, I provide recommendations for confronting water privatization and aiding in water remunicipalization.