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After a year of phoning, faxing, meeting and writing, Water Watch has won a decisive victory in Toronto.

The City has abandoned their plan to create an arms-length water board dominated by political appointees and empowered to pursue privatization.

Instead, the City has adopted the proposal put forward by the City’s water advocate, Councillor Irene Jones. The new plan creates a committee of council that will oversee water and wastewater issues. The committee will be empowered to speed up investment in infrastructure and get moving on renewing Toronto’s water system. The water and wastewater division at City Hall will remain part of the City staff.

There were powerful forces pushing for the creation of the arms-length agency. But thousands of people signed petitions, delivered fliers, called their councillors, e-mailed City staff and made their voices heard.

Proponents of the water board acknowledged it was the public’s persistent and vocal opposition to the plan that made them change their minds. Concerns about accountability, privatization and safety were heard, loud and clear, at City Hall.

Everyone involved shares in an important victory: Toronto’s water system stays safe, clean, accountable and public. And Water Watch has again shown that when we all get together, we can make anything happen.