Hamburg Water quits BGW
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THE HAMBURG WATER UTILITY, Hamburger Wasserwerke (HWW) is leaving the German federal association of the gas and water industry, BGW (Bundesverband der Deutschen Gasund Wasserwirtschaft) at the end of the year in protest against the “lack of support for the water sector within the organisation.”
The BGW no longer supports the interests of water utilities, in particular the communal water sector and water associations. Instead it has become a mouthpiece for the big private gas and energy companies, according to HWW general manager Hanno Hames in an open letter to 6500 water utilities and water associations.
HWW is also said to be concerned about the impending large scale liberalisation of the European water market.
BGW president and RWE gas executive Manfred Scholle responded by claiming that the BGW is opposed to liberalising the water market. “All BGW members agree that water supply and wastewater management
should remain in the hands of local authorities,” he said.
Committees of the European Parliament are currently examining draft legislation on the liberalisation of the water sector. Scholle said that this would involve a general privatisation of the industry and complete “de-municipalisation” and would therefore not be accepted by the German water industry.
The BGW president said that the organisation had shown “liberalisation ideologies” in Brussels the red card. He added that the BGW had shaped discussions on liberalisation from the start and it had been clear from preliminary talks that the EU authorities were realising water market liberalisation would not be straightforward.
However, only two months ago the BGW’s general manager Wolf Pluge spoke out in support of local authorities outsourcing water supply and wastewater services. Combining the two sectors would cut costs, he said.
Any decision on market liberalisation in Germany has been postponed by the government until after the next national elections. A total of 85% of water service operations in Germany are in the public sector with 15% in private hands.