chapter  9
16 Pages

Is the Pricing of Urban Water Services Justifiably Perceived as Unequal among Spanish Cities?

ByRoberto Martínez-Espiñeira, Maria A. García-Valiñas & Francisco González-Gómez

Water is a merit good and a necessary one for life, which has important implications for

economic, social and environmental policy (OECD, 2003). In the European Union, urban

water supply is considered a service of general interest (EU, 2001). General interest

services differ from ordinary services in that public authorities consider that they must be

provided even if the private market does not have sufficient incentives to do so. The

European Community itself is committed to using the instruments at its disposal to ensure

that services best meet the needs of users and the general public (EU, 2001, 2007).

Regarding the price of these services, the objective should include transparency of tariffs

and affordable pricing schemes for the service to be accessible to all (EU, 2003, 2004).

This aspect is particularly relevant in the lowest levels of consumption, associated with

water amounts that are necessary to sustain life.