Skip to main content

Integrating Social Aspects into Urban Water Pricing: Australian and International Perspectives

  • Chapter
Understanding and Managing Urban Water in Transition

Part of the book series: Global Issues in Water Policy ((GLOB,volume 15))

Abstract

Over the last decade, society’s aspirations towards affordable urban water have been overtaken by other objectives – economic efficiency, financial sustainability, and environmental conservation. This chapter provides an overview of how social equity can be built into water pricing principles, processes, and outcomes. Examples are given, and analyses are made of water affordability in Australian capital cities from 1995/96 to 2011/12 and compared with the values of water concessions given to disadvantaged people by state governments. We conclude that social equity and affordability factors can be successfully integrated into the price structure of urban water and doing so has particular advantages.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • ABS Energy Research. (2006). World water meter report (5th ed.). London: ABS Energy Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2012). Year book Australia 2012. Cat. 1301.0

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2013). Household income and income distribution, Australia, 2011–12. Cat. 6523.0

    Google Scholar 

  • Bithas, K. (2008). The sustainable residential water use: sustainability, efficiency and social equity. The European experience. Ecological Economics, 68, 221–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boland, J. J. (1993). Pricing urban water: Principles and compromises. Water Resources Update, 92, 7–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cambridge Water. (2012). Corporate social responsibility report. http://www.cambridge-water.co.uk/customers/csr

  • Carroll, A. B., & Shabana, K. M. (2010). The business case for corporate social responsibilities: A review of concepts, research and practice. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(1), 85–105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chenoweth, J. (2008). Minimum water requirement for social and economic development. Desalination, 229, 245–256.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). (2007). Manual on the right to water and sanitation. Geneva: COHRE, AAAS, SDC, and UN-HABITAT.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crase, L., O’Keefe, S., & Burston, J. (2007). Inclining block tariffs for urban water. Agenda, 14, 69–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). (2012). Company social tariffs: guidance to water and sewerage undertakers and the water services regulation authority under section 44 of the flood and water management Act 2010. London: Social Tariffs Consultation, DEFRA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fankhauser, S., & Tepic, S. (2007). Can poor consumers pay for energy and water? An affordability analysis for transition countries. Energy Policy, 35, 1038–1049.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fitch, M., & Price, H. (2002). Water poverty in England and Wales. London: Centre for Utility Consumer Law and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gleick, P. H. (1996). Basic water requirements for human activities: Meeting basic needs. Water International, 21(2), 83–92.

    Google Scholar 

  • Global Water Intelligence (GWI). (2009). The price of free water in South Africa. Global Water Intelligence, 10(8), 31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Global Water Intelligence (GWI). (2010). World water prices rise by 6.7 %. Global Water Intelligence, 9(9), 34–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Godden, L. (2008). Property in urban water: Private rights and public governance. Chapter 8. In P. Troy (Ed.), Troubled Waters: Confronting the water crisis in Australia’s cities. Canberra: ANU E Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Godley, A., Ashton, V., Brown J., & Saddique, S. (2008). The costs and benefits of moving to full water metering. Science Report SC070016/SR1 (WP2). Bristol: UK Environment Agency.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gómez-Lobo, A. (2001). Making water affordable: output-based consumption subsidies in Chile. In P. J. Brook & S. Smith (Eds.), Contracting for public services: output-based aid and its applications. Washington, DC: World Bank and International Finance Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gómez-Lobo, A., & Meléndez, M. (2007). Social policies and private sector participation in water supply: the case of Colombia. Working papers wp252, University of Chile, Department of Economics.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grafton, R. Q., & Kompas, T. (2007). Pricing Sydney water. Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, 51, 227–241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grafton, R. Q., & Ward, M. B. (2008). Prices versus rationing: Marshallian surplus and mandatory water restrictions. Economic Record, 84, S57–S65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Grafton, R. Q., Chu, L., Kompas, T., & Ward, M. (2014). Volumetric water pricing, social surplus and supply augmentation. Water Resources and Economics, 6, 74–87.

    Google Scholar 

  • Griffin, R. C. (2006). Water resource economics: The analysis of scarcity, policies, and projects. Cambridge, MA\London: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halich, G., & Stephenson, K. (2009). Effectiveness of residential water-use restrictions under varying levels of municipal effort. Land Economics, 85(4), 614–626.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haller, L., Hutton, G., & Bartram, J. (2007). Estimating the costs and health benefits of water and sanitation improvements at global level. Journal of Water and Health, 5, 467–480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herscovitch, A., & Stanton, D. (2008). History of social security in Australia. Family Matters, 80, 51–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Howard, G., & Bartram, J. (2003). Domestic water quantity, service level and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hutton, G. (2012). Monitoring ‘affordability’ of water and sanitation services after 2015: Review of global indicator options. Paper submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hutton, G., Haller, L., & Bartram, J. (2007). Global cost–benefit analysis of water supply and sanitation intervention. Journal of Water and Health, 5, 481–502.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IBNET. (2012). The 2011 IBNET water tariff database. http://www.ib-net.org/en/tariffs_map.php

  • IPART. (2010. December). Residential energy and water use in Sydney, the blue mountains and Ilawarra. Results from the 2010 household survey. (Electricity, gas and water – research report)

    Google Scholar 

  • Manila Water (2012). Corporate social responsibility. http://www.manilawater.com/Pages/CorporateSustainability.aspx. Retrieved 15 Feb 2013

  • Martins, R., Pimentel, A., Quintal, C., Barata, E., & Cruz, L. (2010). Water pricing and social equity in Portuguese municipalities. ISEE 2010 conference on advancing sustainability in a time of crisis. Oldenburg/Bremen, Germany

    Google Scholar 

  • Malone, U. (2013). New South Wales desalination plant deal to cost consumers $10 billion over 50 years. ABC News, 27 September 2013. Available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-27/nsw-desalination-plant-deal-costing-customers-10-billion/4985168

  • Muller, M. (2008). Free basic water – a sustainable instrument for a sustainable future in South Africa. Environment and Urbanization, 20(1), 67–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • National Water Commission (NWC). (2009). Governance at a glance: Water pricing and economic regulation. Australian water governance 2009. Canberra: NWC.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Water Commission (NWC). (2006–2013). National performance report. Major urban water utilities. Canberra: NWC

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2001). The price of water: Trends in OECD countries. Paris: OECD.

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2003). Social issues in the provision and pricing of water services. Paris: OECD.

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD. (2010). Pricing water resources and water and sanitation services. Paris: OECD.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Productivity Commission. (2011). Australia’s urban water sector. Inquiry report no. 55. Vol 1, 31 August 2011. Melbourne: Productivity Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  • Renwick, M. E., & Green, R. D. (2000). Do residential water demand side management policies measure up? An analysis of eight California water agencies. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 40, 37–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Savenije, H., & van der Zaag, P. (2002). Water as an economic good and demand management: Paradigms with pitfalls. Water International, 27(1), 98–104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sibly, H. (2006a). Efficient urban water pricing. Australian Economic Review, 39, 227–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sibly, H. (2006b). Urban water pricing. Agenda, 13, 17–30.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smets, H. (1999). Implementing the right to drinking water in OECD countries. OECD seminar social and environment interface proceedings, Paris, 22–24 Sept 1999, pp. 107–148.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smets, H. (2000). The right to water as a human right. Environmental Policy and Law, 30(5), 248–250.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smets, H. (2009). Is drinking water affordable for all ? Paper presented in 5th world water forum, Istanbul. 16–22 March 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  • Smets, H. (2013). Is drinking water affordable for all? Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System (EMWIS)

    Google Scholar 

  • Victorian Government Department of Human Services (Vic DHS). (2012). State concessions and hardship programs 2010–11. Melbourne: DHS.

    Google Scholar 

  • Victorian Government Department of Human Services. (2007). State concessions and hardship programs 2006–07. Melbourne: DHS.

    Google Scholar 

  • Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA). (1995–2005). WSAA facts. Melbourne: WSAA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Whittington, D. (2003). Municipal water pricing and tariff design: A reform agenda for South Asia. Water Policy, 5, 61–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wood, D. J. (2010). Measuring corporate social performance: A review. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(1), 50–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yarra Valley Water (YVW). (2012). YVW residential customer charter. Melbourne: YVW.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Noel Wai Wah Chan .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Appendix: State-by-State Water Concession Policies in Australian Cities, 2011/12

Appendix: State-by-State Water Concession Policies in Australian Cities, 2011/12

Cities

Eligibility

Concession

Source

Canberra (ACT)

Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card holder

68 % discount in water and sewerage supply charge

www.actewagl.com.au

 

Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card holder

68 % discount in water and sewerage supply charge

 
 

Health Care Card holder

Rebate on water charges only

 

Sydney (NSW)

Owner-occupiers with Pensioner Concession Card, Dept of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card, Veterans’ Affairs Blue Card – Pensioner Concession, or receiving DVA intermediate rate pension

Water: 100 % discount on the standard quarterly service charge to maximum of $36.22. Reduction of 33 % on water use charges to a maximum of 100 kL a year (for resident pensioners who have a water service only)

www.sydneywater.com.au

Sewerage: 83 % discount on the standard quarterly service charge

Melbourne (Victoria)

Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, Centrelink Health Care Card, DVA Concession Card, DVA Gold Card

50 % discount on water and sewerage charges up to max of $270.20 per year

www.yvw.com.au

Water only: 50 % discount on water charges up to max of $138.50 per year

Adelaide (South Australia)

Owner-occupier or tenants with Pensioner Concession Card; Seniors Card; DVA Gold Card; full-time student; Centrelink benefit or allowance receiver; low income earner

25 % discount on water charges over a year subject to minimum and maximum amounts

www.dcsi.sa.gov.au

Water concession:

Owner occupier: min $155, max $265

Tenant: min $90, max $200

Sewerage concession: max $110 per year

Brisbane (Queensland)

Owner-occupier or life tenant with Pensioner Concession Card or DVA Gold Card

Subsidy up to a max of $120 off the cost of water charges per year from Queensland Council.

www.communities.qld.gov.au

Brisbane City Council provided Pension remission up to 40 % discount of net charges in total bill to max $476 per year.

Perth (Western Australia)

Pensioner Concession Card, state concession card

Rebate of up to 50 % of annual service charges and 50 % of water usage charge up to 150 kL per year.

www.watercorporation.com.au

 

WA Seniors Card

Rebate of up to 25 % (capped) of annual service charges

 
 

Both WA Seniors and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Rebate of up to 50 % on annual service charges, or may be eligible to defer those charges

 

Darwin (Northern Territory)

Centrelink Pensioner Card; DVA Gold Card; DVA Concession Card; Centrelink carer allowance receiver; non-pensioner aged war service veteran; low income superannuants; senior citizens

Daily water concession: water fixed charge = $0.407 per day; water usage charge = $0.725 per kL, sewerage fixed charge = $0.754 per day.

www.health.nt.gov.au

  1. Source: Adapted from Productivity Commission (2011, Table 8.4) and updated information from the government websites listed

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Chan, N.W.W. (2015). Integrating Social Aspects into Urban Water Pricing: Australian and International Perspectives. In: Grafton, Q., Daniell, K., Nauges, C., Rinaudo, JD., Chan, N. (eds) Understanding and Managing Urban Water in Transition. Global Issues in Water Policy, vol 15. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9801-3_15

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics