Water Demand Management Strategies for Water-Scarce Cities: The Case of Spain

This paper provides an overview of pricing and non-pricing measures to reduce domestic water consumption at the household levels in five urban areas in Spain. Analyses are based on questionnaires sent to water utilities that provide water services in the metropolitan areas of Barcelona and Seville, the cities of Malaga and Saragossa and the region of Madrid. Our main contribution is that, compared to studies that are based on estimates of the water demand function, we asked directly the managers of the utilities on the effectiveness of the measures implemented. We found that all areas studied have implemented pricing and non-pricing measures to encourage the efficient use of water and that reduction in per capita water consumption has been the result of periods of drought, accompanied in certain cases by water restrictions and pricing and non-pricing measures. In all five areas studied, the utilities believe that non-pricing measures have had a greater impact on water consumption decisions compared to pricing measures.

By Cecilia Tortajada, Francisco González-Gómez, Asit K. Biswas and Joost Buurman, 2019. Article published in Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 45, pages 649-656. DOI: 10.1016/j.scs.2018.11.044

Article online