Water industry

The water industry provides drinking water and wastewater services (including sewage treatment) to residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of the economy. The water industry includes manufacturers and suppliers of bottled water. Water privatization by companies in the water industry is becoming an issue as water security threatens local communities.[1]


The modern water industry operates sophisticated and costly water and wastewater networks and sewage treatment plants, and typically consumes 1-2% of GDP. It is generally a natural monopoly, and as a result is usually run as a public service by a public utility which is owned by local or national government. In some countries, notably France, the UK and the Czech Republic, the water industry is regulated but services are largely operated by private companies with exclusive rights for a limited period and a well-defined geographical space.

Organizational structure

There are a variety of organizational structures for the water industry, with countries usually having one dominant traditional structure, which usually changes only gradually over time.





Whatever the ownership structure, water quality standards and environmental standards relating to wastewater are usually set by national bodies, such as (in the UK) the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Environment Agency. In the United States drinking water standards are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. pollution control standards are developed jointly by EPA and state environmental agencies pursuant to the Clean Water Act. For countries within the European Union, water-related directives are important for water resource management and environmental and water quality standards. Key directives include the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 1992 (requiring most towns and cities to treat their wastewater to specified standards), and the Water Framework Directive 2000, which requires water resource plans based on river basins, including public participation based on Aarhus Convention principles. See Watertime - the international context, Section 2. International Standards (ISO) on water service management and assessment are under preparation within Technical Committee ISO/TC 224.

See also


  1. Sandra L. Postel, Aaron T. Wolf (2001). "Dehydrating Conflict." Foreign Policy.

External links

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