Insights

The importance of consultative tariff-setting

I was in the Philippines last week, and was invited to attend the 4th National Conference of Small Scale Water Service Providers, held amongst the aquariums of Manila Ocean Park. At a session on customer service codes for small operators, a representative from a provincial water cooperative stood up and related a story about a man who had joined their ...

Saudi Arabia thinks big on wastewater privatisation

I was in Saudi Arabia this weekend for the long-awaited launch of the first phase of the Jeddah wastewater system. The project will see 52,000 people connected to a wastewater treatment network in the notorious sewerage black spot, rising to 132,000 in the next three years.

Officially opened by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the governor of the Mecca province ...

Educating the masses

The voting down of two municipal outsourcing contracts in the US and Canada this week should not be seen as a victory for the anti-private water brigade. The fact that both projects would have been deliverable for less money using private sector expertise means that municipal leaders simply have to get smarter about educating their voters - and their councilmembers.

The ...

The end of the line for cotton wool politics

This financial crisis has brought an end to the days of cotton wool politics with an uncomfortable jolt. Hitherto, politicians avoided hard truths. The combination of 24-hour news media and up-to-the-minute opinion polls gave them no space to say difficult or unpopular things: politics was all about benefits and never about costs. How things have changed.

I was thinking of ...

The Growing need for Blue thinking

How do you influence public and political opinion? It is a question which has been weighing on my mind as we approach the American Water Summit in Atlanta. From my point of view, the most important bit of the event is going to be the last session, when we are bringing together Veolia Water North America boss Laurent Auguste, former ...

Atlanta summit to wrestle with municipal financing

It is difficult to tell how bad the crisis in municipal finances will be. It matters because most water services around the world are offered by local government, and the squeeze on local government finance looks set to tighten in the coming months. This reflects the fact that while most taxes are raised centrally, most services are delivered locally, so ...