15 Sep 2011

Bleg: Water utility supply curves

UW asks:
I am teaching basic microeconomics for water engineers. We use a standard micro book which has basically no reference to water issues. In your book I found several good ideas how to link standard micro economics to water issues. But do you know of any book which has its focus on explaining basic economics of water? Something which includes demand curves for water (for households, agriculture, etc.) and  production/cost curves for water utilities with different technologies?
In our subsequent email discussion, we clarified that it is quite hard to find good examples of water utility cost curves (individual and aggregate demand curves are never observed, and they are hard to discover via contingent valuation techniques, e.g., questionnaires).

So, does anyone have good data or resources on the fixed and variable costs of delivering water for one or more utilities? I am guessing that it's probably pretty easy to get an idea of the fixed costs of a utility (salaries, debt, etc.) but harder to separate out variable costs (O&M), let alone by customer class. Even worse, we'd want to include deferred costs and subsidies...

Any ideas?