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Optimal Water Metering and Pricing


  • Andrés Chambouleyron

    (IERAL - Fundación Mediterránea)


Marginal cost pricing of running water and sewerage services has long been the default recommendation of economists and natural resource specialists to firms and local governments. However, water pricing has never been studied simultaneously with the water metering problem before. The socially optimal number of meters crucially depends on the price of water charged by the Water Company because depending on this will be the fall in consumption and therefore in water production costs and vice versa. This paper breaks the inertia as it combines both issues in one optimization problem. Both in a centralized and in a decentralized way, the optimal number of meters is determined simultaneously with the optimal per unit water rate. The Rateable Value System (RV) (i.e. the “Status Quo” or benchmark regime) is confronted with Universal Metering (UM), Optimal Metering (OM) and Decentralized Metering (DM) in terms of optimal water rates and the socially optimal number of meters. Except for RV, the results of (UM), (OM) and (DM) all recommend setting price equal to marginal cost and the optimal number of meters is hereby endogenously determined by a functional form relating water and metering costs and water demand characteristics. Conclusions and policy recommendations are drawn from the theoretical analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrés Chambouleyron, 2003. "Optimal Water Metering and Pricing," Industrial Organization 0301013, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0301013
    Note: Type of Document - Tex/WordPerfect/Handwritten; prepared on IBM PC - PC-TEX/UNIX Sparc TeX; to print on HP/PostScript/Franciscan monk; pages: 19 ; figures: included/request from author/draw your own

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    Cited by:

    1. Neder, Ángel Enrique & Ceballos Ferroglio, Carlos Fernando, 2010. "Determinación de los beneficios del sistema de tarifación volumétrico para el servicio de agua potable en la localidad de La Calera, Córdoba, Argentina/Benefits Determination of Volumetric Pricing Sys," Estudios de Economia Aplicada, Estudios de Economia Aplicada, vol. 28, pages 405-422, Agosto.
    2. Henrique Monteiro, 2005. "Water Pricing Models: a survey," Others 0510002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Abdoulkarim Esmaeili & Solmaz Vazirzadeh, 2009. "Water Pricing for Agricultural Production in the South of Iran," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 23(5), pages 957-964, March.
    4. R. Quentin Grafton, 2017. "Responding to the ‘Wicked Problem’ of Water Insecurity," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 31(10), pages 3023-3041, August.

    More about this item


    water metering; water pricing;

    JEL classification:

    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities

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