05/06/2015, Berlin

New VEWA study on water and waste water prices:

German water and waste water prices found to be appropriate compared to other European countries

BDEW: When making price comparisons, it is necessary to consider service and quality standards, as well as financial framework conditions

What do consumers in Europe really pay for water and waste water? How much would households in European countries have to pay on top if all of the high service and quality standards of Germany were implemented in other EU member states? These questions were analysed by the third edition of the "VEWA - Comparison of European Water and Waste Water Prices" study commissioned by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) that was published by the association today.

The study compares water supply and waste water disposal in Germany, England/Wales, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland, thus covering more than half the population of the 28 EU member states. Factors such as the structure of the water industry, infrastructure and investments, prices, subsidies, taxes and fees, along with service and quality standards were compared to make differentiated statements regarding the extent to which the prices cover costs and which performance and quality standards they finance.

"The results of the VEWA study are conclusive. Assuming a similar quality and service level prescribed by the EU, and taking all taxes, fees and subsidies into account, German consumers pay no more for their water supply and waste water disposal per capita per annum relative to their disposable income than do consumers in England/Wales, France, Austria and the Netherlands," explained Martin Weyand, BDEW Managing Director Water/Waste Water.

The study also takes the European requirements for domestic water supply and waste water disposal into account with regard to quality and cost coverage. EU member states are obligated to transpose these European Directives into their own legislation. However, in many countries, they are only partially transposed into national law. In such cases, some of the necessary investments in the water management infrastructure fail to materialise and therefore do not appear as a cost element in consumer bills. The VEWA study calculates the effect a comprehensive implementation of these requirements would have on the costs to the consumer – illustrated in the case of the countries selected for comparison.

Specifically, the study’s pricing model takes into consideration the quality of supply and disposal in the six countries based on the parameter “upgrade investments and maintenance expenses for the pipeline network”, along with the connection rate to the pipeline network and the running costs for fitting water meters. “The VEWA study enables a quantitative and qualitative comparison of European water and waste water prices. It therefore helps to objectify the European pricing debate,” says Weyand.

The VEWA study, which has now been carried out for the third time since it was first undertaken in 2006, also shows that the performance of the water industry has improved in all countries in recent years and has levelled out to a certain extent. The associated investments have generally led to converging pricing levels. Exceptions remain with regard to waste water disposal in England/Wales and France, where standards sometimes remain significantly lower than those in the other countries and the waste water prices are correspondingly lower. As far as the cost coverage required by the Water Framework Directive is concerned, various trends have been detected. While in Germany, the Netherlands and England/Wales only marginal or low subsidies are currently being paid, in France, Austria and – due to the considerable backlog – Poland, they are still very high.


Jan Ulland
Pressesprecher / Press Spokesman