Urban Water Pricing and Private Interests’ Lobbying in Small Rural Communities
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Water pricesRural areasContingent valuationWillingness to payLobbyWater Framework Directivecomparative analysis
Alguacil-Duarte, F.; González-Gómez, F.; del Saz-Salazar, S. Urban Water Pricing and Private Interests’ Lobbying in Small Rural Communities. Water 2020, 12, 3509. [https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123509]
SponsorshipLIFE programme of the European Commision LIFE16 ENV/ES/000196; Junta de Andalucia; European Commission P18-RT-576 B-SEJ-018-UGR18; University of Granada (Plan Propio. Unidad Cientifica de Excelencia: Desigualdad, Derechos Humanos y Sostenibilidad -DEHUSO-)
It is difficult for small municipalities to ensure their urban water cycle complies with the principle of cost recovery established in the European Union (EU) Water Framework Directive. Unlike more populous municipalities, small municipalities face higher average production costs. However, at least in Spain, the price of water is, on average, lower in small municipalities. We question whether the low price of water in rural areas is due, at least in part, to people linked to agriculture, i.e., do farmers constitute a special interest group that hinders increases in the price of water? The main hypothesis was tested with data taken from Torre-Cardela, a municipality in southern Spain with close to 800 inhabitants. In the research a contingent valuation analysis was carried out to analyze respondents’ willingness to pay in the event of a hypothetical increase in the price of water to help cover the service costs. Contrary to expectations, the study yields no evidence that the agricultural population is more resistant to price rises than the rest of the citizens surveyed. In fact, results show that people involved in the agricultural sector would be willing to accept a hypothetical increase in water tariffs in between 15% and 25% over the current tariff, while for the rest of the population this same increase would be lower (in between 9% and 20%).