City wants to buy water firm PVK

The City Council approved buying the company the provides Prague's water

Prague City Hall again wants to be in charge of water distribution to the city. On Tuesday city councilors approved the purchase of water company Pražské vodovody a kanalizace (PVK). The city will draft a memorandum to that effect and they want to sign it with PVK. Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said the city wants to initially acquire about a third of the shares in PVK.

The timeline for the purchase is not clear, as PVK has a lease on the municipal water system until 2028. French company Veolia currently fully owns PVK, and earns about Kč 5 billion annually. It pays the city about Kč 2 billion for water and maintenance.

The joint stock company PVK was established April 1, 1998, as a legal successor to the state company with the same name. It operates all of the water infrastructure for residents and businesses, as well as drainage and wastewater treatment. PVK supplies 1.26 million people in the city and another 190,000 in the Central Bohemia region. At the end of 2015, the company employed 961 people and had a turnover of Kč 6.24 billion, according to its website.

In total, companies owned by Veolia Central & Eastern Europe SA supply water to 3.7 million people in the Czech Republic, which has a population of 10.6 million. Other companies owned by Veolia include Severočeské vodovody a kanalizace, Královehradecká provozní, Středočeské vodárny, 1.SčV, Moravská vodárenská, Voss, Ravos, and Vodospol.

Veolia has operated in the Czech Republic since 1996. Over 1,150 municipalities in the Czech Republic have their water infrastructure managed by the group. The company is also active in public transportation, energy and waste collection.

Internationally, Veolia had been criticized for its use of unpaid internships in Ireland, as it amounted to unpaid labor and put people who turned down the unpaid work at risk of losing social benefits.

Veolia was also criticized for it its role in the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It called the criticism baseless and a distraction from the real issues. 

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