You are here: Home Knowledge Base Environment Reducing the Water and Waste Footprints of Megacities Solutions Water should be charged at its actual cost, reflecting both its nature as a scarce resource and the cost for infrastructure. Avoid subsidies, which encourage overuse.
Symposium 2011

Solution for Reducing the Water and Waste Footprints of Megacities

The Challenge

The United Nations estimates that the number of megacities with a population of more than 10 million will triple from 20 in 2003 to 61 in 2015. It is estimated that more than nine tenths of urban grow ...

The United Nations estimates that the number of megacities with a population of more than 10 million will triple from 20 in 2003 to 61 in 2015. It is estimated that more than nine tenths of urban growth will occur in developing nations, with four fifths of urban growth occurring in Asia and Africa.

Water should be charged at its actual cost, reflecting both its nature as a scarce resource and the cost for infrastructure. Avoid subsidies, which encourage overuse.

Water costs are rising, owing to the increased cost of adding new water sources, the costs of higher water quality standards and the need to be more attentive to system maintenance and the expansion of the distribution system. At the same time, subsidized water provision for major consumers in many countries tends to encourage overuse relative to cost. If water prices reflect the scarcity of the resource and the cost of infrastructure, incentives for reasonable water use are created. This can be seen as part of a demand management strategy.

In many fast-growing megacities in poorer countries, water has over time become an essentially unregulated private good via resales and home deliveries by enterprising private vendors, increasing the cost. Therefore, the poor are often willing to pay for reliable provision of high-quality water: for them, this often reduces the cost compared with the previous unregulated situation. An ideal cost recovery system could differentiate between poor who pay less and rich who pay more.

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