How to Ensure Water Affordability: Approaches And Challenges

On the 10th of October Aqua Publica Europea and Utilitialia, the national federation of Italian utilities, organised a seminar on Water Affordability during the Festival dell Acqua in Bari (Italy). The aim of the seminar was to present the approaches to ensuring the access to water in different European countries, including Belgium, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy and Scotland.

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The seminar showed that most EU countries and regions are going through reform processes of the water sector and are testing new policy approaches to ensure the affordability of water services. Public water operators are taking an active part in those processes and have implemented different mechanisms that seek to balance social equity with financial sustainability.

Some of the specific affordability mechanisms presented included tariff structures adapted to the family type and household income, free water-use audits for households with the aim of helping them to reduce consumption and social funds. The role of promoting the consumption of tap water, which provides the same –or better– quality than bottled water, for a reduced price and lesser environmental impact, was also stressed.

In his closing remarks, Alessandro Russo, President of the Milan Gruppo CAP and Vice-president of APE, reminded the audience of the values embodied by public water operators, who do not only ensure access to water, but also access to a resource and a service of high quality.

In October 2016 APE published a report presenting a series of concrete solutions, developed and implemented by public water operators across Europe, to address water affordability.

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