Increased awareness of shortcomings in both provision and maintenance of public services is triggering new approaches to policymaking and service delivery. Conventional debates over public versus private service provision obscure the multiple configurations possible. We consider the effectiveness and desirability of an alternative approach to public-service provision of water and wastewater services, specifically the Border WaterWorks program, which has helped deliver water-related services to economically disadvantaged communities (colonias) along the US-Mexico border. We explore some issues that emerge when nonprofit organizations take on functions of governments and service providers, and examine the conditions under which the provision of water and wastewater infrastructure can be advanced by nonprofit organizations. We conclude that the general effectiveness of Border WaterWorks was thanks to its ability to adapt to local circumstances and respond to situations as they arose in the context of the numerous problems in colonias. We also conclude that nonprofit providers are most effective when they serve as catalysts that assist the public sector rather than when they provide public-service infrastructure on their own.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Public Administration
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law