New study suggests changes in EU water pricing

Sept. 27, 2013

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — With water under stress in many European countries, the EEA study found that pricing should reflect volume used and cost of production.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A new study from the European Environment Agency (EEA) has found that the flat-fee water charges common in parts of Europe do not encourage efficient water use, according to a press release.

The study titled “Assessment of cost recovery through water pricing” used data from Croatia, England and Wales, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain, according to the release.

Many European countries have found that their water supply is under stress, continued the release, often due to the high cost of abstracting and cleaning water rather than a lack of rainfall.

The report suggests that water should be priced based on volume used instead of a flat fee and that prices should reflect all purifying, transporting, environmental and resource costs.

Other findings of the study listed in the release were:

  • Households use about a third less water when they are charged based on use, especially for uses such as gardening, agriculture or swimming pools
  • Subsidized water prices for agricultural use cover as little as 20 percent of the water cost
  • A majority of the public seems to support being charged based on water use, according to a 2012 Eurobarometer survey.

Read the full report here.