Locally uniform water utility pricing. Social and economic issues in an emergent policy in France and Italy.

Open access


Over the past twenty years, the principles of ‘full-cost recovery’ and ‘the user pays’ have become prominent in water utility pricing across the EU. At the same time, uniform pricing has been introduced by local authorities to boost equality between users in a given territory. Two case studies in France and Italy reveal different processes, depending upon the institutional setting, though in both cases EU regulations exert increasing influence on the water pricing structure. A literature review and study of specific documentation was used to prepare about thirty semi-directive interviews with public owners, private firms, and users’ organizations, all conducted face-to-face. The overview presented here has highlighted several trends common to the two case studies, France and Italy, in line with the EU standardization of water pricing structures. The differences arise from different national regulations and territorial models. Local congruence in pricing clearly accompanies reinforced cooperation between municipalities, promoting the legitimacy and visibility of public authorities but inducing complex economic mechanisms such as cross-subsidies and amendments to delegation agreements.

Argento, D., Grossi, G., Tagesson, T., Collin, S.-O., 2010. The externalization of local public service delivery: experience in Italy and Sweden. International Journal of Public Policy, vol.5 no. 1, 2010, 41-56.

Autorità Idrica Toscana, 2015. La regolazione del servizio idrico in Italia e l’Autorita Idrica Toscana, Area Regolazione, AIT, Pisa, 13 marzo 2015.

Bakker, K., 2007. The “Commons” Versus the “Commodity”: Alter-globalization, Anti-privatization and the Human Right to Water in the Global South. Antipode 39/3, June 2007, 430-455.

Barraqué, B, Juuti, S. P., Katko, T. S., 2012. Urban water conflicts in recent European history: changing interactions between technology, environment and society, in: Barraqué B. (ed.), Urban water conflicts, UNESCO-IHP Urban water series no. 8, 15-32.

Bauby, P., Similie, M.M., 2013. Quelle européanisation du service public de l’eau?, in: Pecqueur B. et Brochet A. (eds.), Le service public d’eau potable et la fabrique des territoires, Paris, L’Harmattan, 97-106.

Beecher J.A., et al., 1994, Revenue effects of water conservation and conservation pricing : issues and practices. National Regulatory Resaerch Institute, Colombus OH.

Boland John, J., Whittington, D., 2000. Water tariff design in developing countries: disadvantages of increasing block tariffs (IBTs) and advantages of uniform price with rebate (UPR) designs. Bank water and sanitation program, Baltimore, Chapel Hill, 37p.

Breuil, L., Canneva, G., Garcia, S., 2005. Country Report Italy, in Euromarket, in: Water liberalisation scenarios. Projet Euromarket Water, European Commission, FP5, 194-233.

Crespi-Reghizzi, O., 2013. Institutions, comptabilité et financement des services d’eau et d’assainissement en Italie et en France, Congrès de l’ASTEE (Association de Sciences et Techniques pour l’Eau et l’Environnement), Nantes (France).

Defeuilley, C., 2017. L’Entrepreneur et le Prince. La création du service public de l’eau. Paris, Presses de Sciences Po, 328p.

Euromarket Project, 2005. Water Liberalisation Scenarios, European Commission, FP5, EUROMARKET EVK1-CT-2002-00113. https://www.ecologic.eu/877

Fauquert, G., and Montginoul, M., 2011. Composantes du prix de l’eau: quells objectifs pour quells prix, in Bouleau G., Guérin-Schneider L.(eds), Des tuyaux et des homes. Les réseaux d’eau en France, Quae: 101-119.

Garcia-Valiñas, M., Picazo-Tadeo, J. A., 2015. Introduction to reforming water tariffs: experiences and reforms. Utilities Policy 34/2015, 34-35.

Grafton, R. Q., Chu, L., Kompas, T., 2015. Optimal water tariffs and supply augmentation for cost-of-service regulated water utilities. Utilities Policy 34/2015, 54-62.

Guérin-Schneider, L., Nakhla, M., 2003. Les indicateurs de performance: une évolution clef dans la gestion et la régulation des services d’eau et d’assainissement. Flux 2003/2 (no. 52-53), 55-68.

Guérin-Schneider, L., Lorrain, D., 2003. Note de recherche sur une question sensible. Les relations puissance publique-firmes dans le secteur de l’eau et de l’assainissement. Flux 2003/2 (no. 52-53), 35-54.

Kanakoudis, V. and al., 2016. Determining a socially fair drinking water pricing policy: the case of Kozani, Greece, Procedia Engineering, 162:486-493, Elsevier.

Kanakoudis, V. and K., Gonelas, 2014. Forecasting the Residential Water Demand, balancing the full water cost pricing and the Non-Revenue Water reduction policies: the case of Kozani city in Greece, Procedia Engineering, 89:958-966, Elsevier.

Kanakoudis, V. and S., Tsitsifli, 2014. Doing the urban water supply job: from privatization to remunicipalisation and the third pillar of the Performance Based Service Contracts, Water Utility, (6):31-46, EWRA.

Kanakoudis, V., Papadopoulpou A., Tsitsifli S., 2015. “Domestic water pricing in Greece : a spatial differenciation“, Desalination & Water Treatment, Taylor & Francis, 54(8): 2204-2211.

Le Galès, P., 2011. Policy Instruments and Governance, In: The SAGE Handbook of Governance, edited by Mark Bevir, SAGE Publications Lt,.142–160.

Lupton, S., Bauby, P., 2008. Directives européennes sur la qualité de l’eau et montée de la délégation du service d’eau potable en France. Cosmopolitiques no. 17,173-190.

Mangano, A., 2012. Water services in Italy: scale economies and sustainability, 20/11/2012, Seminar ANR Eau &3E “European water and sanitation services”. Athens Week (Greece), 24p.

Massarutto, A., 2012. Urban water reform in Italy: A live bomb behind outward unanimity, in: Barraqué B. (ed.), Urban water conflicts, UNESCO-IHP Urban water series no. 8, 247-268.

Melosi Martin, V., 2012. Full circle? Public responsibility versus privatization of water supplies in the United State, in: Barraqué B. (ed.), Urban water conflicts, UNESCO-IHP Urban water series no. 8, 40-56.

Motta Sarah C., Nilsen Alf Gunvald (eds.), 2011. Social Movements in the Global South, Disposession, development and resistance. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 275p.

Nuove Acque, 2016. Bilancio di sostenibilida 2015, 148p.

Rogers, P., De Silva, R., Bhatia, R., 2002. Water is an economic good: How to use prices to promote equity, efficiency, and sustainability. Water Policy 4/2002, 1-17.

Romano, G., Guerrini, A., Campedelli, B., 2015. The new Italian water tariff method: A launching point for novel infrastructures or a backwards step? Utilities Policiy 34/2015, 45-53.

Roth E., 2001. Water pricing en the EU. A review. European Environment Bureau, Brussels, 2001/002.

Smets, H., 2013. Nouveaux tarifs pour l’eau potable / New tariffs for drinking water. Paris, Johanet, 231p.

SPL Eau du Bassin Rennais, 2016. Rapport annuel sur le Prix et la Qualité des Services d’eau potable. Exercice 2015, 171p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of wastewater management, 2003. Water and Wastewater Pricing. An Informational Overview. EPA 832-F-03-027, 10 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of water, 1999. Consolidated water rates: issues and practices in single-tariff pricing. September 1999, Washington DC, 122 p.

Van de Meene, S.J., Brown, R.R., Farrelly, M.A., 2011. Towards understanding governance for sustainable urban water management. Global Environmental Change, vol. 21, issue 3, Elsevier, 1117-1127.

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 32 32 11
PDF Downloads 25 25 11