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The sustainable residential water use: Sustainability, efficiency and social equity. The European experience

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  • Bithas, Kostas

Abstract

The present paper traces the operational conditions governing the sustainable use of water in cities. Towards this objective, the paper first proposes a new comprehensive definition for the sustainable use of water. Next, efficiency in use is proposed as a fundamental instrument in achieving sustainability, in spite of prevailing opinions maintaining that sustainability and efficiency aim at different and probably conflicting objectives. In this light, several pricing modes that inhibit efficiency are examined and their effects are defined. In this context, egalitarian pricing which, nevertheless, prevents efficiency, is also systematically evaluated until it is ascertained that it does not serve social equity in the use of water, in the long run. All the more, the present paper advocates that certain egalitarian pricing systems such as the increasing block rates - most prevalent at this time - may have the reverse effect than the one intended and hence, in the long run, impose negative impacts on the welfare of low incomes. As a result, full-cost prices are proposed as a necessary instrument for the sustainable use of water; an instrument that promotes social equity in the long run. The assumptions of the study are examined in a comparative analysis of representative European pricing systems and urban management modes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bithas, Kostas, 2008. "The sustainable residential water use: Sustainability, efficiency and social equity. The European experience," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 221-229, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:221-229
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jasper M. Dalhuisen & Raymond J. G. M. Florax & JHenri L. F. de Groot & Peter Nijkamp, 2003. "Price and Income Elasticities of Residential Water Demand: A Meta-Analysis," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(2), pages 292-308.
    2. Bromley, Daniel W., 1990. "The ideology of efficiency: Searching for a theory of policy analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 86-107, July.
    3. Julie A. Hewitt & W. Michael Hanemann, 1995. "A Discrete/Continuous Choice Approach to Residential Water Demand under Block Rate Pricing," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 71(2), pages 173-192.
    4. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-149.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Giulia Romano & Nicola Salvati & Andrea Guerrini, 2014. "Factors Affecting Water Utility Companies’ Decision to Promote the Reduction of Household Water Consumption," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 28(15), pages 5491-5505, December.
    2. Simona FRONE, 2012. "Issues On The Role Of Efficient Water Pricing For Sustainable Water Management," Romanian Journal of Economics, Institute of National Economy, vol. 34(1(43)), pages 84-111, June.
    3. Henrique Monteiro, 2010. "Residential Water Demand in Portugal: checking for efficiency-based justifications for increasing block tariffs," Working Papers Series 1 ercwp0110, ISCTE-IUL, Business Research Unit (BRU-IUL).
    4. Pinto, Francisco Silva & Marques, Rui Cuhna, 2015. "Tariff recommendations: A Panacea for the Portuguese water sector?," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 36-44.
    5. Renata Grbac Zikovic, 2015. "Sustainability and Challenges of Water Supply System: Case Study of Residential Water Consumption in the City of Opatija," MIC 2015: Managing Sustainable Growth; Proceedings of the Joint International Conference, Portorož, Slovenia, 28–30 May 2015, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper.
    6. Lehmann, Paul, 2011. "Making water affordable to all: A typology and evaluation of options for urban water pricing," UFZ Discussion Papers 10/2011, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    7. repec:spr:waterr:v:31:y:2017:i:9:d:10.1007_s11269-017-1663-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Rita Martins & Carlota Quintal & Eduardo Barata & Luís Cruz, 2010. "Water Pricing and Social Equity in Portuguese Municipalities," GEMF Working Papers 2010-17, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.
    9. Monteiro, Henrique, 2008. "Evolution of cost recovery levels in the Portuguese water supply and wastewater industry 1998-2005," MPRA Paper 11490, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Sidibé, Amadou, 2010. "Demand for soil, water and forest conservation in Burkina Faso," Department of Forest Economics publications 2345, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of forest economics.
    11. Rita Martins & Luis Cruz & Eduardo Barata, 2013. "Water Price Regulation: A Review of Portuguese Tariff Recommendations," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 197-205, June.
    12. Elham Erfanian & Alan R. Collins, 2017. "Charges for Water and Access: What Explains the Differences in West Virginia Municipalities?," Working Papers Working Paper 2017-02, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
    13. Griffin, Ronald C. & Mjelde, James W., 2011. "Distributing water's bounty," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 116-128.
    14. Barde, Julia Alexa & Lehmann, Paul, 2013. "Distributional effects of water tariff reforms: An empirical study for Lima, Peru," UFZ Discussion Papers 14/2013, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    15. Lyazzat Nugumanova & Miriam Frey & Natalya Yemelina & Stanislav Yugay, 2017. "Environmental Problems and Policies in Kazakhstan: Air pollution, waste and water," Working Papers 366, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    16. repec:spr:jecstr:v:6:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40008-017-0068-9 is not listed on IDEAS

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