Report Highlights Global Water Use Discrepancies

Oct. 19, 2016
International Statistics for Water Services 2016 features interactive portal

The International Water Assn. (IWA) launched the 12th edition of the International Statistics for Water Services 2016. This year’s report features an interactive statistics portal that allows users to graphically compare individuals cities’ differences within water abstraction, consumption, tariff structure and regulation of water services.

The portal allows users to see how specific water consumption for households differs between national and international cities. Users can view data on these differences by looking at how water services are financed, how various water tariff structures are set up, which measurements of performance service providers use, and how they analyze their micro-economics and manage their services.

The portal includes data from five continents, 40 countries and 170 cities. The data shows several key trends:

  • Household consumption of potable water varies from 28 to 631 liters per day per capita, a factor of 20.
  • Water taxes vary. Taxes form part of the water bill and varies between 0% and 28% of the total bill.
  • No single tariff structure is trending worldwide. Fixed charges versus variable charges, environmental charges or not, they all have different advantages and disadvantages around the world.
  • Water consumption remains subsidized in many countries and cities.
  • Water pricing is a useful tool for reducing water consumption in times of water scarcity, keeping in mind that the price elasticity for potable water is, in general, very low or zero.

“Water is a human right, while wastewater is not. When we look at pricing trends, we are seeing a divergence of the VAT charged on water and wastewater. A low VAT for potable water, which is a human right, and a higher VAT for wastewater collection and treatment, which is not a human right,” said Ed Smeets, chairman of the IWA Specialist Group Statistics and Economics. “One of water managements’ goals should be to make the total cost and recovery of water visible so that we as customers will have a better understanding of our own responsibilities to optimize usage. By presenting tariff structures in a transparent way, we hope that this report provides some insight to water managers.”

Source: International Water Assn.

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