About International Statistics for Water Services

This report is now in it’s thirteenth edition, and this update contains data from 39 countries and 198 cities worldwide. This report enables high-level comparisons concerning abstraction, consumption, tariff structure and regulation of water services globally.

The data provide a starting point for debate on how services are financed, how various water tariff structures are set up, which measurements of performance service providers use, how they analyze their microeconomics, and how they manage their services efficiently.

Water under pressure

Water price structure and water pricing are not stand-alone mechanisms to ensure sustainable water use. In fact, sustainability can only be obtained by change of the customer behaviour directly linked to the awareness of scarcity of the water resources all over the world.

The one and best solution of an ideal water tariff structure does not exist. But we can state that water companies, per definition, are fixed cost companies. As a consequence, the fixed cost should play a major role in water billing. But we have also to take into account that the billing mechanism should take into account variable m3 costs.

The water footprint: a huge concern?

The consumption of potable water is widely variable, with a large gap between cities in our research. Household consumption per capita varies from 14 liters per capita per day in Mbarara, Uganda, to 538 liters per capita per day in Denver, USA: a factor of 38.

Water abstraction per country is also widely spread, ranging from 15m3 per capita per year in Uganda to 585 m3 per capita per year in Russia.

Taxes (like VAT) form part of the water bill people receive. A significant trend in a number of countries is a divergence of the VAT charged on water and wastewater – a low VAT for potable water and a higher VAT for wastewater collection and treatment. This stems from the desire to keep water bills affordable, as potable water is a human right.

In one third of the cities surveyed, the environmental charges exceeds 50% of the total water bill. This percentage is still raising. This helps to explain the remarkably high spread of the total water bill across the 198 cities, from 33 US$ in the province of Salta, Argentina, to almost 2,116 US$ in Denmark, Odense.
The upcoming trend of higher VAT on wastewater in more countries reflects the fact that on one hand the total cost of wastewater is also really much higher than the total cost of potable water stricto sensu, and on the other hand the higher VAT being used as an incentive to reduce the environmental footprint of wastewater. The affordability and the ability to pay for the total water bill always need to be considered in this framework.

Whereas VAT is a fiscal tool of the government, water companies also have a major mission to help consumers reduce their wastewater footprint, by promoting the circular use of water and wastewater. Conserving and protecting the scarce water resources we have today is critical to preserve them for future generations. We all must work together to respond to the challenges associated with climate change.

A short cut to smart technologies

One of the ultimate goals of water management is total cost recovery, however this needs to be comparable with an affordable water bill. From the cities and countries surveyed, there is a large gap in total charges of the water bill.

From the point of view of asset management of a water company there is a lot of value going on. Every percentage of gain in efficiency could have a beneficial effect on the water production cost and on the water bill. New disruptive technologies like intelligent metering and smart water networks will lead to beneficial effects, and will allow, for example, to more correct sizing of the water assets , or to lower the non revenue water by detecting leakages.

Compiling detailed information concerning these water losses in all its aspects at country level falls out of the scope of this survey, but this unbilled water must be payed also. It is in water companies’ interest to reduce the percentage of unbilled water, which is now high on their agenda.

Today, emerging technologies of smart metering based on IoT will accelerate the way to a smart water network. Current daily challenges such as pressure losses, fraud or reverse flow, to name a few, can be detected in real time at the office, even before the customer is affected.

About International Statistics for Water Services

The Tokyo edition 2018 of the ‘International Statistics for Water Services’ released at the IWA Water World Congress (16-21 September 2018) is an initiative from the IWA Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics (chaired by Ed Smeets, The Netherlands) and coordinated by the Working Group Statistics (chaired by Jan Hammenecker, commercial director of De Watergroep, Belgium).

About the IWA Specialist Group Statistics and Economics

The International Water Association (IWA) is a worldwide network of professionals, which aims to exchange scientific and professional knowledge, provided by academics and water managers, covering many aspects of the water cycle. Our Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics aims to provide a forum to debate how utilities are financed, how their various water tariff structures are, which measurement of performance they use, how they analyze their micro economics, how they manage efficiency, etc. To achieve these goals, workshops and seminars are organized annually, and papers and books are written with the scope of sharing information and experiences that focus both on fundamental and on practical issues to be considered for economic and responsible behavior of water utilities.

Ed Smeets
Ed Smeets
IWA Fellow and Chair of IWA’s Specialist Group on Statistics and Economics.
Jan Hammenecker
Jan Hammenecker
Leader of the Working Group Statistics and commercial director of De Watergroep, Belgium
Ann Bijnens
Ann Bijnens
Statistics expert from De Watergroep, Belgium

About the Statistics report, edition Tokyo 2018

By means of biannual international surveys, the Working Group Statistics provides professional information on water abstraction, consumption, charges and regulation on country and on city-levels. So, we are glad to present this edition of our ‘International Statistics for Water Services’ with an update of data from 39 countries and 198 cities.

This Tokyo 2018 report, in particular the charges and consumption sections, focuses on water consumption of households. All the definitions of the several parameters have been discussed and fine-tuned by the members of the Working Group Statistics. For the quantitative information on population, production volumes etc., the years 2014 and 2016 are included. The information about tariffs is based on the consumption of 100 m³ and 200 m³ in 2015 and 2017. Concerning water charges, making time series is rather difficult, because of variation in exchange rate in time, when recalculating the local valuta in US dollars.

The water prices do not necessarily reflect the full cost of water services, because some parts of the costs may be covered by sources other than the customer. In some cases for example, there can be a political or social motivation to ensure that water is supplied at a socially acceptable price. Of course there are many other factors affecting price levels, but these were out of scope for this survey.

You are invited to have a closer look at the Tokyo statistics and build your own graphs. I hope that the facts and figures will add a plus value for your own job. Keep in mind that this survey is on world scale and that you can compare your water company at a high level.

Become part of the project

The most difficult challenge in making this report is to find the right contact person(s) for the countries. This single point of contact must be able to deliver, at the same time, data for the water sector and some country indicators. If your country is not listed in the Tokyo report and if you want to volunteer to provide us with the valuable data of your country, please let us know and send us your contact details to IWA@dewatergroep.be

The making of…

Renato Parena, honorary chairman of the Specialist Group, for the Italian water services, launched the concept of the survey in the early 1990’s. Since that time we have been producing the biannual statistics of water services worldwide. To ‘keep up with the times’ we are proud to present the digital edition of the Statistics for the second time, which offers more possibilities than ever before.

We enjoyed the making of the Tokyo survey more than ever. Thanks to IWA, we have moved to a digital publishing platform. This will enable greater access to the statistics and permit us to update the data on a regularly base. Our main concern is the reliability of the data and the quality control. Of course it is evident that for the data quality we depend on the single points of contact that provided us the data.

Thanks to the IWA Operations Office in the Netherlands and the P&Q digital agency in Serbia for their support and assistance.

Thanks to all water professionals who helped obtain the data for this survey. It is thanks to their efforts that we are able to give a valuable overview of important aspects of water services worldwide.
Argentina D. A. Nolasco, Nolasco Associates (Water, Environment & Business Consulting)
Armenia A. Sergoyan, State Committee of Water Economy of the RA MEINR
Australia D. Farokhi and M. Hardy, Bureau of Meteorology of Australia
Austria A. Riha, OVGW
Belgium C. Legros, Belgaqua and A. Bijnens, De Watergroep
Brazil C. Rosito, ABES - Brazilian Association of Water and Sanitation Engineering
Bulgaria I. Kastchiev, Energy and Water Regulatory Commission
Canada D. Main and A. Kolesov, AECOM
China T. Li, IWA-China Regional Office
Hong Kong, China J. TC Louie, Water Supplies Department Hong Kong SAR Government
Chinese Taiwan S-L. Lo, Chinese Taiwan National Committee
Cyprus P. Potamou, Limassol Water Board
Czech Republic F. Wanner, The Water Supply and Sewerage Ass. Of the Czech Republic (SOVAK CR)
Denmark T. Sorensen, Danish Water and Wastewater Association
England&Wales K. Ridout, Ofwat
Finland M. Rontu, Finnish Water Utilities Association
France S. Pouradier-Duteil, Veolia
Germany T. Herkner, Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V.
Hungary B. Balazs, Kaposvar Waterworks (member of Hungarian Water Association)
Indonesia D. Riantara, PERPAMSI (Indonesian Water Supply Association)
Italy R. Parena and R Sciolotto, SMAT Group
Japan M. Shibuya, Japan Water Works Association
Macao, China N. Kuan, Macao Water
Malta A. Sammut, regulator for Energy and Water Services
Mexico R. Olivares, IWA representacion Mexico
Netherlands P.J.J.G. Geudens, Vewin
Norway A. Haarr, Norwegian Water and Wastewater Ass. and O. Ryenbakken, Water and Sewerage Works City of Oslo
Poland P. Bartoszczuk, Warshau School of Economics
Portugal F. Ruivo, P. Silvério and D. Alves, ERSAR
Romania S. Lacatusu, Romanian Water Association and D. Popa, Water company Brasov
Russia A. Epshtein, Russian Water and Wastewater Association
Scotland S. Hendry, University of Dundee
South Korea Z. Yun, Korean Society on Water Environment
Spain A. Castilla, AEAS
Sweden G. Svensson, Swedish Water
Switzerland M. Freiburghaus, Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association
Turkey O. Yenigun, Turkish National Committee on Water Pollution Research and Control
Uganda G. Katongole, National Water and Sewerage Corporation
United States of America R. Craley, American Water Works Association and Raftelis Financial Consultants

Interpreting the graphs correctly:

  • When you build your own graph, what information are you looking for? Not all visualizations give a good interpretation and choosing the right graph in the statistic type selector is important.
  • All data are on country and city level, NOT on a company level.
  • All financial data are converted to US$, latest known exchange rate of December 2017.
  • The exchange rates vary in time.

Tips and tricks

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  • You can sort by ascending, descending or alphabetic.
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