WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The city of Baltimore voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban the privatization of its water and sewerage systems, in what supporters say is the first large U.S. jurisdiction to take such a step.

Around 77 percent of more than 148,000 voters backed a proposal to alter the city’s charter to declare the “inalienability” of its sewerage and water-supply systems, with most votes counted Wednesday morning.

A Baltimore official said multiple cities have expressed interest in similar provisions.

The measure “sends a strong message to private corporations,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland state organizer for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group that promoted the ballot initiative.

“It prohibits any asset sales or leases of the system,” she added. “It’s not a sure-fire trick to prevent any privatization ever, but it prohibits the most dangerous efforts,” she added.

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