這項引起爭議的水資源特許經營權的協議是從1999年9月3日生效，當時玻國政府核准貝希特爾子公司Aguas del Tunari為特許經營人，為科恰班巴市提供各項水服務。到了2000年4月10日，由於民眾對Aguas del Tunari服務之爭議加溫，抗爭越演越烈，該項特許經營權才告終止。
1999年9月，在只有一名競標人的情況中，貝希特爾子公司Aguas del Tunari獲得卡恰邦布市40年的經營特許權。但該公司在接收後數週內，即調高水費達50%，甚至在某些案例中，水價調高比例更是驚人。
Bechtel, a global engineering and construction company based in San Francisco, today reached agreement with the government of Bolivia, dropping a legal demand for $50 million after a revolt over privatizing water services in the city of Cochabamba forced the company out of Bolivia in April 2000.
Bechtel and its chief co-investor, Abengoa of Spain, had been seeking $25 million in damages and $25 million in lost profits in a case filed before a World Bank trade court, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Following four years of international public protest aimed at the companies, Bechtel and Abengoa agreed to abandon their case for a token payment.
"Multinational corporations want to turn everything into a market," said Oscar Olivera, a leader in the Bolivian water revolt. "For indigenous people water is not a commodity, it is a common good. For Bolivia, this retreat by Bechtel means that the rights of the people are undeniable."
The concession agreement dates from September 3, 1999, when the government of Bolivia approved Aguas del Tunari as the concessionaire to provide water services to the city of Cochabamba. On April 10, 2000, the concession was terminated because of the civil unrest, giving rise to a dispute between Bolivia and Aguas del Tunari.
In 1997, the World Bank made privatization of the public water system of Bolivia's third largest city, Cochabamba, a condition of the country receiving further aid for water development.
That led, in September 1999, to a 40 year concession granted to a company led by Bechtel in a process with just one bidder. Within weeks of taking over the city's water, Bechtel’s Bolivian company, Aguas del Tunari, raised rates by more than 50 percent and in some cases even higher.
The water price hikes were met with angry public protest. Cochabamba, a city of about 500,000 people, was shut down by general strikes three times. In an effort to protect the Bechtel contract, the Bolivian government declared a state of martial law and began arresting protest leaders at their homes in the middle of the night. An unarmed 17 year old boy was shot and killed by Bolivian Army personnel. At least 175 others were injured.
In April 2000, Bechtel was forced to leave the country and the water company was returned to public ownership.
In November 2001, Bechtel and its associates filed their case with ICSID at the World Bank. The ICSID process bars the public and media from being present at its proceedings or disclosing who testifies.
For four years, citizen groups waged a global campaign to pressure Bechtel to drop the case.
Protesters closed down Bechtel's San Francisco's headquarters twice. Company officials were bombarded by critical e-mails. Citizen groups from 43 nations endorsed a legal petition to the World Bank demanding that the case be opened to public participation.
"This settlement demonstrates the power of public participation," said attorney Martin Wagner of Earthjustice, a nonprofit, public interest law firm based in Washington, DC. "Unfortunately, hundreds of foreign investor challenges against developing countries remain pending and more will be filed as the United States and others continue to force governments to give foreign corporations special privileges," Wagner said. "We must continue to tear down the walls of secrecy and exclusivity in international commercial arbitrations like this one."