4 Jul 2017

The evolution of the Dutch drinking water sector

We just finished revisions of this paper to meet the deadline for a journal's special issue, BUT we would love to hear you thoughts or feedback on the paper, the sector in the Netherlands, or how these themes relate to systems you know better. We will surely have a chance to improve the paper (probably if it's accepted for the special issue and certainly if it isn't ;), so please do send comments.

The evolution of the Dutch drinking water sector <== link to download

David Zetland and Bene Colenbrander

Abstract: Dutch drinking water companies (DWCs) have brought more water of better quality to more people over the past 160 years, but their institutional environment has changed with social priorities. We divide these changes into four eras in which an initial solution leads to a new constraint that forces a change in priorities and thus DWC actions. The first era begins around 1850 when polluted common pool water attracts sellers of drinking water as a private good. Priorities changed around 1900 as the government pushed for a network expansion that would bring drinking water services to all as a public good. The third era began around 1950 as strains on common-pool budgets and water supplies shifted the focus to rationalization and efficiency. The fourth and current era began around 1970 with DWCs being asked to restore ecosystems and play a larger role in the community. These shifts demonstrate how the path towards clean, safe drinking water may twist and turn as new opportunities eclipse past successes and changing priorities shift the relative costs and benefits of different actions.

As a preview, check out the figure on infant mortality and death rates that drives our narrative:

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