The financing history of urban water infrastructure in Paris (1807-1925): lessons from the past to enlighten present and future challenges?
Sustainable financing is a major challenge for the water sector both in many developing countries where water and sanitation services are still in the expansion phase and in Europe where the water industry is faced to major investments needs too. To give more depth to the present policy debate a historical perspective on water services financing is needed. This paper is focused on the financing history of the Paris water infrastructure brought to completion in the 1807-1925 time frame (Ourcq canal, water supply network and sewers, long distance aqueducts, water treatment plants, waste water treatment units). A variety of financing schemes and institutional solutions (municipal budget - fiscal resources, concession, municipal bond and land added value capture schemes) are identified and described. A deeper analysis is made on the financial flows of Paris’ water, sanitation and canals service over the 1893-1930 time frame. A discussion on the institutional choices and on the long run cost allocation of the chosen financing schemes is made. It appears that long term debt, inflation and land added value capture mechanisms played key roles in absorbing part of the investments’ costs.
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