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

  • Bithas, Kostas
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VDY-4S7X6M5-2/2/26709e1cc1d71cc18faec88d710bf287
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1-2 (December)
    Pages: 221-229

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2008:i:1-2:p:221-229
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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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. Solow, Robert M, 1986. " On the Intergenerational Allocation of Natural Resources," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 141-49.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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