There are challenges to categorizing water, or attempting to define it in an economic sense; because water can be considered in a multitude of dimensions in terms of the sources of the water and its use. Water provides goods (e.g. drinking-water, irrigation water) and services (e.g. hydroelectricity generation, recreation and amenity) that are utilized by agriculture, industry and households. Provision of many of these goods and services is interrelated, determined by the quantity and quality of available water. Management and allocation of water entails consideration of its unique characteristics as a resource (URL3). While defined as a free good in the past, its definition has changed as it has become scarce. Today, water is considered an economic good, by means as to how it is considered in our current day. Economic goods are those which are subject to a production activity; thus, they are good which require labor, time, technology and allocation of resources. Water was suggested to be considered and managed as an economic good for the first time in 1992 during the “International Conference on Water and Environment” held in Dublin. According to the Dublin Principles accepted at the Conference, water is considered to be a value such that it contributes to economic activity and, in this context, has economic value in all various fields of its utilization. However, here it should be especially noted that, although water is defined as an economic good, it does not mean that all its costs can be charged. The fourth Dublin Principle defines water as an economic good, by keeping in mind the right to access to safe water by persons in poverty, and emphasizes its social dimension. There is consensus on this matter, be it in local economies or at the international level.
According to The Fourth Dublin Principles “Water has an economic value and should be recognized as an economic good, taking into account affordability and equity criteria” ICWE (1992).
In addition, good and services divided into private and public goods and services. In a market economy the allocation of scarce natural resources (such as coal, oil, fish, crops, and timber) is typically determined by trade in markets. However, water resources have a number of unique characteristics which mean that traditional market mechanisms can lead to inefficient and inequitable allocations. This creates questions over whether water should be considered a public or a private good (White, 2015). Private goods involve two properties: rivalry and exclusion. Rivalry essentially means that if I consume the good you cannot. Exclusion means that if I consume the good you are excluded from any effects from that consumption: there are no ‘externalities’ (Shaw 2005). One of the most familiar uses of water is at the household level of drinking, gardening, etc. These kind of uses can be described as rival in that an individual drinking of glass of water can prevent other from drinking it, and excludable in that when it has been consumes nobody else can use it (White 2015). Also, bottled water is a private good because of is consumed by someone then disposed of.Property rights can lead to creation of a private good. Private property, such as a home, is protected via property rights established by laws. However, water rights are not typically de?ned in the same way as the property rights for one’s home. Often, water rights are legal rights to use the water – the volume of water itself is not owned by the individual (Shaw, 2005). Public goods are non-rival goods: one unit of your consumption does not lead to me not getting to consume that unit. Public goods may also involve externalities. That is, benefits and costs are not fully reflected to market prices. Because of non- excludable and non-rival a water sanitation is public good. Also, flood control services are public nature. Nonrivalry is linked to the high exclusion costs of water. And this brings to free-riding, i.e. to the enjoyment of water by those who have not helped pay for its cost of production (Farolfi 2011). Dirty water would be a public good, but clean fresh water is definitely rival but not necessarily excludible is it is a lake or aquifer.Also, recreation on lakes and the ocean would be considered a public good (URL 4). There are mixed products in terms of rivalry and excludible features. Of these, club goods (for example, shared irrigation) are excludable, but non-rival. In contrast, common–pool goods, e.g. water in aquifer, are non-excludable and are rival. On the other hand, other types of economic commodity values associated with water may not require it to leave the hydrologic system. These are for instance the waterways transportation and hydroelectric power generation. These are therefore called instream uses and because they involve very little consumption of water, they are called nonconsumptiveuses. These uses have some aspects of rivalry of private goods. (Farolfi 2011). To conclude, the use of water (in the course of its utilization) is considered both a private and public good according to the source of the water. The other characteristic features of water can be summarized as follows: Water is a 'bulky' resource: Although water is essential for almost any economic activity, there are not many examples of water being transported over any considerable distance, particularly not against the force of gravity (Zaag 2006). This means that its economic value per unit weight or volume tends to be relatively low. Therefore, its conveyance entails a high cost per unit of volume and is often not economically viable over long distances unless a high marginal value can be obtained (URL 5). The essentialness of water: The concept can be applied either to something that is an input to production or to something that is directly enjoyed by people as a consumption commodity. In the case of an input, if an item has the property that no production is possiblewhen this input is lacking, the item is said to be an essential input. In the case of a final good, if it has the property that no amount of any other final good can compensate for having a zero level of consumption of this commodity, then it is said to be an essential commodity (Hanemann 2006). Water is non-substitutable: There is no alternative for water. Economic theory is based on the existence of choice. But what alternatives are there for water? There is no alternative, there is no choice. The only exception is coastal cities that could afford to produce fresh water from seawater through desalinization. Being essential and non-substitutable, water is considered a special economic good (Zaag 2006).
11.3.1 Supply of fresh water - The quantity of fresh water
In the last 50 years, although the amount of water has remained the same, the water withdrawals has increased three-fold (WWAP, 2012). In many regions, the ground water withdrawal is more than the feedback or sustainable amounts. Water sources are significantly affected by global changes. There are very few ground water or surface water systems, which have not been affected by human activity. Therefore, the amount (quantity) and characteristics (quality) of the supply of water has become an important component. In other words, the water to be used should be of adequate quality and quantity. Thus, the research, investigation and discussions related to water focus on the components of quality and quantity. Although three quarters of the surface of the earth is covered with water, the amount of fresh water suitable for use by mankind is considerably limited. The total amount of water of earth is 1.4 billion cubic kilometers. As can be seen in Table 1, 97% of this water is oceans and seas, while only 3% make up fresh water sources. However, of this, 2.5% are frozen and locked up in Antarctica, the Arctic and glaciers, and not available to man. Thus, humanity must rely on this 0.5% for all of man’s and ecosystem’s fresh water needs (WBCSD 2006). The below graph shows the available fresh water sources (Figure 11.1).
Figure 11.1. Available Fresh Water Resources (WBCSD, 2006)
22.214.171.124 The quality of fresh water supply and its effects
As mentioned above, together with the rise in living standards, social and economic development increases the need for drinking water per person. In addition, the seasonal decrease in water resources, leakage in the distribution and supply networks, depletion of aquifers and steadily decreasing, led to a growing imbalance between water supply and demand. One of the most important factors causing this imbalance is water pollution. Government authorities and public and private institutions have striven to find solutions to reduce this problem. The main objective is to deliver good quality drinking water to consumers. The Millennium Development Goals aimed at halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Access to an improved water source refers to the percentage of the population using an improved drinking water source. The improved drinking water source includes piped water on premises (piped household water connection located inside the user’s dwelling, plot or yard), and other improved drinking water sources (public taps or standpipes, tube wells or boreholes, protected dug wells, protected springs, and rainwater collection) (WDI 2015). Important progress has been made towards this goal in the World. The number of countries reaching the target are shown as follows (Figure 11.2).
Figure 11.2. MDG Drinking Water Target and Countries (World Development Indicators, 2015)
According to the 2015 Millennium Development Report as of 2015 147 countries have met the MDG drinking water target 95 countries have met the MDG sanitation target 77 countries have met both the drinking water and the sanitation target. Thus, 2.1 billion people have gained access to an improved sanitation facility since 1990. Thus 68 % of the global population now uses an improved sanitation facility. However, Eight out of ten people still without improved drinking water sources live in rural areas. One in ten (663 million) people still lack improved drinking water sources. The world has missed the MDG target for sanitation by almost 700 million people. These differences between countries are shown as follows (Figure 11.3).
Figure 11.3. Improved water source (% of population with access) (database from World Development Indicators, 2015)
11.3.2. Economic benefits of water and sanitation improvements
There are many and diverse potential benefits associated with improved water and sanitation. However, there is an economic and social cost to accessing and treating safe drinking water. The following section outlines each of the benefits and costs. The quantity of water delivered and used for households is an important aspect of domestic water supplies, which influences hygiene and therefore public health. First of all access to basic sanitation and adequate drinking water makes people healthier and more economically and socially productive” (URL 6). For example The United Nations (UN) reports that for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there are around $8 gained through averted costs (for healthcare, illness etc.) and increased productivity. However, environmental pollution and water sources as a receiving environment for waste in recent years has meant that the quality of water is degraded in many water sources (ground water or surface water). This situation adversely affects the use (and the potential use) of water. To prevent pollution, the control of sources of pollution and treatment is necessary. Social and economic benefits of such investments to ensure this are of importance. Because lack of water supply, sanitation and hygiene takes a huge toll on health and well-being and comes at a large financial cost, including a sizable loss of economic activity in order to achieve universal access (WWDR 2015). According to Hutton and Heller (2004), who investigated the economic gain of increasing the quality of water, water and sanitation interventions is high when all benefits are included, standing at around between $5 and $11 economic benefit per $1 invested for most developing world sub-regions and for most interventions. According to the authors, the total societal economic benefits can be listed as such: (1) Health sector benefit due to avoided illness (2) Patient expenses avoided due to avoided illness (3) Value of deaths avoided (4) Value of time savings due to access to water and sanitation (5) Value of productive days gained of those with avoided illness (6) Value of days of school attendance gained of those with avoided illness (7) Value of child days gained of those with avoided illness Table 11.1 shows possible these economic benefits related to water and sanitation improvements. As stated above these are classified in their own as Health benefits, Indirect economic benefits related to health improvement Non-health benefits related to water and sanitation improvement.
Table 11.1. Economic benefits arising from water and sanitation improvements (Hutton&Haller, 2004)
Direct economic benefits of avoiding diarrhoeal disease
Indirect economic benefits related to health improvement
Non-health benefits related to water and sanitation improvement
Less expenditure on treatment of diarrhoeal disease
Value of less health workers falling sick with diarrhoea
More efficiently managed water resources and effects on vector bionomics
Less expenditure on treatment of diarrhoeal disease and less related costs
Less expenditure on transport in seeking treatment
Less time lost due to treatment seeking
Value of avoided days lost at work or at school
Value of avoided time lost of parent/ caretaker of sick children
Value of loss of death avoided
More efficiently managed water resources and effects on vector bionomics
Time savings related to water collection or accessing sanitary facilities
Labour-saving devices in household
Switch away from more expensive water sources
Property value rise
Leisure activities and non-use value
Agricultural and industrial sectors
Less expenditure on treatment of employees with diarrhoeal disease
Less impact on productivity of ill- health of workers
Benefits to agriculture and industry of improved water supply, more efficient management of water resources-time-saving or income- generating technologies and land use changes
As seen as Table 1 there are many and diverse potential benefits associated with improved water and sanitation, ranging from the easily identifiable, quantifiable to the intangible and difficult to measure. For various sectors and individuals, these benefits include both (a) reductions in costs and (b) additional benefits resulting from the interventions (Hutton & Haller 2004).
11.3.3. Water quality in an economic context
Social monetary expenditure directly aimed at improving the quality of water or controlling pollution is known as pollution control costs. There is a need for high-cost technologies and additional investments to sustain a higher quality of water in the face of increasing pollution. Therefore, marginal pollution control costs increase as the level of pollution decreases. Water purification costs, including treatment and inspection, have taken a significant weight on municipal budgets. As water supply and demand are in urbanized regions, this externality is difficult to overcome. Securing reliable and uncontaminated sources for large cities requires heavy investment in infrastructure (dams, pumping stations, waterworks, treatment plants, etc.). Last but not least, accidental spills by tankers (petroleum products) are always expensive events to cleanup (URL 7). Figure 11.4 below illustrates this:
Figure 11.4. The marginal control cost (MCC) (Hussen, 2004)
According to Hussen (2004) if a higher level of water quality is desired, an additional expenditure on secondary or tertiary treatment may be required. Such additional treatments would require implementation of new and costly technologies designed to apply either chemical and/or biological treatments to the water. Figure 4 represents the marginal pollution control cost in graphical form. The marginal cost of controlling or treating the ?fth unit of waste is seen to be $50. However, the marginal cost increases to $200, a fourfold rise, to treat the ?fteenth unit of waste. Note that given that the benchmark is 20 units, the treatment of the ?fteenth unit is equivalent to leaving 5 units of waste untreated – which is what is shown in Figure 2. As seen as, the marginal pollution control cost increases at an increasing rate as a higher level of cleanup or environmental quality (a movement towards the origin).
11.3.4. Demand of fresh water
The worldwide demand on water is primarily for purposes of domestic, industrial and agricultural use. Table 2 below outlines the water demand according to purpose of use. As can be seen in Table 11.2 above, domestic water usage in homes, hotels, restaurants and Laundromats are for drinking, food preparation, sanitation, lawn and garden watering and service production and makes up for a smaller portion out of the total water usage in many countries. Trade related and industrial water usage is the consumption of water in factories, offices for trade or industrial purposes. The quantities of usage differ among regions according to whether there are large industrial facilities in cities or whether these facilities use water from the city mains water supply. 16% of the world’s agricultural areas are irrigated and 84% are irrigated by rain water.
Table 11.2 Water Demands According to Purpose of Use
Gardening, Car wash
Production of goods and energy
Transportation of goods
70% of the world’s water sources are used for agricultural purposes. This is followed by industrial use with 22% and domestic usage with 8%. Although water usage for industrial purposes is less than for agricultural purposes, there is still a need for water sources which are accessible, regular and environmentally sustainable. Domestic use of water is calculated based on water consumption per day per person. The average daily consumption of water per person in developed countries (500-800m3) is approximately 10 times more than that of developing countries. In regions of drought, this daily consumption amount can be as low as 20-60m3 (UNESCO 2000). Figure 11.5 shows the consumption of water according to sector by taking into account the level of development of countries according to WBCSD (2009) data. Demand for water increasing dramatically in all major use sectors. According to The United Nations World Water Development Report 2015; over the past century, the development of water resources has been largely driven by the demands of expanding populations for food, fibre and energy strong income growth and rising living standards of a growing middle class have led to sharp increases in water use. By 2050, agriculture will need to produce 60% more food globally, and 100% more in developing countries. Global water demand for the manufacturing industry is expected to increase by 400% from 2000 to 2050, leading all other sectors, with the bulk of this increase occurring in emerging economies and developing countries.
Figure 11.5 Composition of water use in different countries (WBCSD, 2009)
On the other hand, as seen as Figure 11.6, according to OECD (2012), water demand will increase by 55% globally between 2000 and 2050. The increase in demand will come mainly from manufacturing (+400%), electricity (+140%) and domestic use (+130%). In the face of these competing demands, there will be little scope for increasing water for irrigation.
Figure 11.6. Water use by 2050 (OECD Environmental Outlook Baseline, 2010)
126.96.36.199 Estimation of fresh water demand
In nearly all markets for goods and services, scarce resources are allocated through prices, which transmit information about relative scarcity and value in use. However, in the case of water, as with many other scarce natural resources, true markets are rare. Prices for water are administratively determined, through mechanisms that are often political and rarely take economic value into account. Water prices, therefore, do not respond automatically to short-term and long-term changes in supply. Prices set by public officials are one potential lever for managing water demand when resources are scarce. Good estimates of the price elasticity of water demand are critical (Olmstead 2010). The responsiveness of demand to a change in price is measured by price elasticity of demand, which is defined as the percentage change in demand divided by the percentage change in price. The price elasticity of drinking water demand by urban households is typically low. In European countries it ranges between -0.1 and -0.25, i.e. the demand for water decreases by 0.1% to 0.25% for every 1% increase in tariffs. In Australia and the United States price elasticity is somewhat higher in the range of -0.1 and -0.4 (Farolfi 2011). This means that the demand change will be proportionately smaller than the price change. Becausefor householders, tap water is a necessity, with no alternatives. If the water company increase the cost of water bills, people would keep buying the service. It would have to rise to a very high price before people disconnected their water supply. This is why tap water is regulated (URL 8). The inelastic demand for tap water has implications on the tap water management: if a municipality is responsible for providing households with tap water and attempts to at least cover its costs, then there is a maximum volume of tap water it can sell. In other words, a minimum threshold for tap-water price exists below. However, the low price for domestic use will not affect the total demand amount to a high degree and will lead to a relatively small additional consumption amount. But it is not possible to say the same of medical/health services; because the price is relatively more elastic in comparison with the elasticity of the water demand. If a price is equal to the marginal cost in the short term, this would lead to an extreme level of wide spread consumption due to the demand on health care services. This is shown in Figure 11.7.
Figure 11.7. Tap Water: Demand Elasticity-Marginal Cost Pricing
As can be seen in Figure 11.4 and 11.5, the demand elasticity of water is low. In this case, the marginal cost pricing will not increase the consumption of water for domestic purposes to a high degree. However, the price elasticity of demand on health care services is higher in comparison. The marginal cost pricing for this sector will place a higher demand on health care services.
Can Water be Free? A pricing system ensures the maximized distribution between scarce resources and alterative utilization area. In 2014, Ireland began to charge for tap water, which was once free of change. This situation leads to a significant amount of protesting. The argument at hand was as such: whether wealthy or poor, water is an essential good of vital importance for all; thus, it is wrong for the public to pay for an essential good. Therefore, the state should supply water free of charge. This way of thought is considerably common. This is largely because water has been regarded as a communal resource to which access was free, apart from the costs of capture, storage and distribution. In fact, prices of water for drinking water (also irrigation) are in many countries well below the full cost of the infrastructure and personnel needed to provide that water, which comprises the capital charges involved, the operation and maintenance (O&M) cost. What would happen if it was supplied for free, instead of at an affordable price? There is a significant difference between the amount of water consumed at a low price compared with if it were free of charge. As can be seen in Figure 11.8 below, when a price of p0 is charged, the amount consumed by the consumer is q0. However, when the price is reduced to 0, then the consumption amount increases up to q1. In this case, the marginal benefit of the majority of consumed water when it has no charge is considerably low. When there is additional consumption, then it will move towards the area of significantly low marginal benefit. For example, more water will be used when washing the car or the necessary care will not be taken concerning water leaks in the garden. It is costly to supply the amount of additional water and it will be necessary to use scarce resources in the production of other good with the supply of water free of charge.
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