Water is not oil

You gotta love this “water is oil” argument.

Being used rather frequently by Trenton city officials, this statement is meant to somehow reassure city residents who see their cash-generating outlying water system being sold for $80 million to pay off debt and close budget gaps caused by official mismanagement.

Mayor Douglas H. Palmer has emphasized the long-term importance of this deal, yet even acting Business Administrator Dennis Gonzalez has said that there are many restrictions on how the money can be used, and that the funds will likely be exhausted by 2011.

I guess that leaves us with the water is oil argument, but even that statement doesn’t hold water, oil, or any other liquid.

This statement assumes that New Jersey American Water, the company purchasing the system, cannot get water from anywhere else besides Trenton, and that the company will not interconnect its new ratepayers and all of the pipes that serve their homes with the rest of the company’s massive system.

Such an assumption is a lie, because interconnections are detailed within the amended water agreement, and so are stipulations that the water company can bring outside water into the system under certain circumstances.

Water doesn’t equate to oil when it can be had from multiple sources other than Trenton and the city’s water works.  Further, water is not as valuable as oil when this very deal allows New Jersey American Water to pipe in increasing amounts of water at a point starting 36 months after the deal is complete.

This deal is a fire sale meant to smooth out the exit of Mayor Palmer and Co. from the scene, who, like locusts, have successfully consumed much of the value in Trenton and are ready to move on to greener pastures.

God help us.

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