The overvalued complaints of water prices

The overvalued complaints of water prices

How much do you pay monthly for your phone bill? 27 euros more or less. How much do you pay for water service? I don’t know, but it’s too expensive
21 March 2014

It is a reality that prices of water have been increasing, specially in the last five years (20% approximately since 2007), but the cost of distribution and sanitation is still not covered. Infrastructure costs are very high, and despite the increase of water prices the minimum requirements established by the Water Framework Directive are still not reached.

From the increase of water pricing recent “massive” complaints have emerged, referring to the high cost paid by the consumer for the service. Although they should be classified as noisy, rather than massive. But, the analysis of the cost of the different utilities takes me to think that those claims are, once more, promulgated by a populist movement sector with personal interests.

To say this I draw on data attached, where it can be seen a decreasing evolution in the expenditure of water per person, in the last years, in the whole of Spain by about 8,7%, for telephone a 3% but an increase in the payment for electricity of a 4%. Overall, the average cost that an inhabitant paid for utilities in 2012 was of 712€ per head, being a 1% lesser than 2011.

But, differences are greater if the relative cost is analysed taking into account the household spending. From it, it is obtained that 6,41% of household spending is intended to pay for the considered utilities, but from that only a 0,66% corresponds to water payment. The rest, is divided between phone bills (2,98%) and electricity (2,83%). Moreover, differences between utilities are higher if only households spending from less than 1000€/month income is analysed, where the spending of water represents a 0,90%, electricity 3,86% and phone bill a 4,06%.

Personally I think that the payment of less than a 1% of a household spending for such an important, basic and necessary service such as water is something derisory, especially if the integral cycle, and not only distribution, is included. And, that there are no complaints about the cost of other less necessary services makes me think that it’s part of a populist movement. Each service, for basic, necessary and universal that it is, has a cost that has to be covered. Let’s stop paying exorbitant rates for telephone bills or other services that are totally expendable, and attend a little bit more to necessary services that can not be, neither should, be free.

*Data obtained from INE, Encuesta de Suministro y Saneamiento del agua y Gasto de los Hogares.

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