Rethinking the price of water

Following EU Social Directive 2000/60, the water resources authority is expected to cause some shock due to the increasing cost of water services. So the question is, should water become yet another economic commodity which must be priced to follow the laws of economics in the market? «It’s entirely logical when water is rationed for the water supply to be considered a social possession,» said Yiannis Mylopoulos, an environmental sciences professor at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. «When the preservation of life in nature is an issue, water must be considered a protected environmental resource. Finally, when water preserves development and economic activities, such as agriculture, industry or tourism, then it must be considered very clearly to be an economic possession. What is happening in our country – that is, for water to be considered a social possession regardless of its use – is outside the realm of logic.» Mylopoulos says the systematic use of water for economic purposes has devalued this resource and resulted in its waste and a lowering of its quality. So what should be done? «If we are to deal with water as an economic possession in all development activities, we must also aim to protect it and use it wisely,» Mylopoulos said. In other words, he continued, water pricing should come with incentives for it to be saved. Also, wastage or pollution should be punished. «This would send the message that they are consuming a scarce resource, which if exhausted or degraded has serious economic as well as social and environmental repercussions,» he said.