Case Studies

Greece

The institutional structure of the water supply sector in Greece is undergoing a major transformation as best reflected by recent changes in the Athens water supply company, responsible for serving 40% of the country’s population. Under the new regime the state retained the full control and ownership of the reservoir/conveyance infrastructure, while the Athens Water Company has been partly privatized (49% available to the shareholders market) and assumed the responsibility for the network. The impacts from the new institutional structure of the water sector have only been discussed "intuitively": on the positive side, a modernization/privatization-related new spirit is reflected in increased attention to new managerial approaches (e.g. a pilot project for assessing network leakage, the preparation of a software model for integrated management of resource abstractions, and a commissioned study to develop an institutional framework for the integrated protection of drinking water sources from pollution). More concretely, the establishment of a long-term investment programme will activate planning procedures and safeguard a budget for network improvement (replacement and leakage control). On the other hand, the new institutional framework shields the service provider from resource-side costs (i.e. new reservoir/aqueduct projects, marginal costs by operating the Yliki branch and extra costs in drought periods are to be covered by the state) providing a disincentive for water conservation. Thus, the system ensures the continued subsidization of the sector, a questionable practice both in terms of regional and social equity, as the benefits will accrue to a partly-private company. In this respect, we propose to carry out a comparative study which will assess the pros and cons of the emerging trends with respect to sustainability standards.


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