Water supply and sanitation in Spain

Water supply and sanitation in Spain

Water supply and sanitation in Spain is characterized by universal access and generally good service quality, while tariffs are among the lowest in the EU. [ [http://www.iwahq.org/uploads/sgs/sg%20on%20statistic%20and%20ec/doc%20and%20reports/IWA%20international%20statistics%200806.pdf IWA 2006 International Statistics for Water Services] ] About 60% of the population is served by private water companies which operate under concession contracts with municipalities. The largest of the private water companies, with a market share of about 50% of the private concessions, is Aguas de Barcelona (Agbar).

Droughts affect water supply in Southern Spain, which increasingly is turning towards seawater desalination to meet its water needs.


Access to water supply and sanitation in Spain is universal. 98% of the urban population and 93% of the rural population is connected to sewers, while the remainder is served by on-site sanitation systems such as septic tanks.

Service quality

Information on drinking water quality in Spain can be found at the following website of the Ministry of Health (in Spanish):

[http://www.msc.es/ciudadanos/saludAmbLaboral/calidadAguas/aguaConHuman/home.htm Drinking Water Quality]

Concerning wastewater treatment, in 2005 77% of municipal wastewater was treated in accordance with standards set by the EU. [ [http://www.mma.es/portal/secciones/novedades_web/pdf/politica_de_agua_balance_28_12.pdf Balance Politica de Agua 2006, p. 18] ]

Links to water resources

Southern Spain regularly suffers from severe droughts. The National Hydrological Plan (PNH by its Spanish acronym) foresaw substantial investments into the transfer of surface water from the Ebro River south to cities on the Mediterranean coast. However, in 2004 these plans have been shelved by the newly elected Spanish government in favor of seawater desalination, adding to 700 existing desalination plants. [ [http://www.irc.nl/page/13174 Desalination IRC] ]

About 74% of municipal water supply originates in surface water, only 19% in surface water and 7% in springs and desalination. Data about average water vary according to the source. According to the utility association ASOAGA water use is about 280 liter per capita and day (l/c/d). [ [http://www.asoaga.org/datos.htm ASOAGA] ] However, a survey by the International Water Association (IWA) in four cities gives water use as between 169 l/c/d in Valencia and 192 l/c/d in Valencia, including industrial water use. These usage levels are similar to the average of OECD countries. [ [http://www.iwahq.org/uploads/sgs/sg%20on%20statistic%20and%20ec/doc%20and%20reports/IWA%20international%20statistics%200806.pdf IWA 2006 International Statistics for Water Services] ]

About 20% of treated wastewater in Spain is being reused, primarily for irrigation and landscaping. [ [http://www.asoaga.org/datos.htm ASOAGA] ]

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

Policy and regulation

A cornerstone of the legal framework for water supply and sanitation is the 1985 Water Law (Ley de Aguas). Policy and regulation functions for water supply and sanitation are shared among various Ministries. For example, the Ministry of Environment is in charge of water resources management and the Ministry of Health is in charge of drinking water quality monitoring.

Basin Agencies (Confederaciones de Cuencas Hidrográficas) are in charge of planning, constructing and operating major water infrastructure such as dams; elaborating basin plans;setting water quality targets, as well as monitoring and enforcing them; granting permits to use water, as well as inspecting water facilities for which permits were granted; undertaking hydrological studies; and to provide advisory services to other entities at their request. Basin Agencies are headed by a President who is nominated by the Cabinet at the proposal of the Minister of Environment. Each agency has a Board, a user assembly and a council to ensure broad participation by various stakeholders in its decision-making process, both in planning and operations. [ [http://hispagua.cedex.es/siagua/documentos/directores03/presentacion5.ppt#260,12,COMETIDOS DE LOS ORGANISMOS DE CUENCA Ministry of Environment] ] There are a total of 15 Basin Agencies in Spain for rivers that flow through more than one autonomous community. If a river runs entirely within the territory of an autonomous community the water administration of the respective autonomous community, instead of one of the basin agencies, is in charge of managing its water resources. This is the case in Galicia, Cataluña, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, the Basque country and Andalusia. [ [http://www.directivamarco.es/2007/11/el-nuevo-mapa-del-agua-en-espana-organismos-de-cuenca-demarcaciones-hidrograficas-y-autoridades-competentes/ Directiva Marco del Agua] ]

While basin agencies do not provide water and sanitation services, they play an important role in determining the framework for the provision of such services.

Service provision

Service provision is the responsibility of the more than 8,000 municipalities of Spain. Municipalities can provide services either directly, through a public company, or through concessions to either a mixed public-private company or a private company. [ [http://www.asoaga.org/gestion.htm ASOAGA] ]

The main urban service provider in Spain is Aguas de Barcelona (Agbar), a private company that provides water and sanitation services to about 20 million people in more than 1,000 localities with a population between 1,000 and more than 3 million under concession contracts. [ [http://www.agbar.es/esp/b-2_ciclo_integral_agua.asp Agbar] ]

History and recent developments

Note: This section remains to be developed.

Spain was one of the first countries in the world to create river basin agencies through a Royal Decree-Law published in 1926. The first river basin agencies ("Confederaciones Hidrográficas") were created in the Ebro basin and in the Segura basin in 1926, followed by the Guadalquivir in 1927 and the Eastern Pyrenees in 1929. Until 1961 basin agencies were created in the entire country. [ [http://directivamarco.es/2007/11/el-nuevo-mapa-del-agua-en-espana-organismos-de-cuenca-demarcaciones-hidrograficas-y-autoridades-competentes/ El nuevo mapa del agua en España. Organismos de cuenca, Demarcaciones Hidrográficas y Autoridades Competentes, by Alejandro Maceira Rozados, November 2007] ]


The avereage level of non-revenue water in Spain is estimated at 22% according to a 2007 report by the EU commission. This is lower than in France or Italy, but higher than in Scandinavian countries or Germany. [ [http://www.bdew.de/bdew.nsf/id/DE_Profile_of_the_German_Water_Industry/$file/Profile_German_Water_Industry_2008.pdf Branchenbild Germany 2008] , p. 40, quoting the EU commission ]

Tariffs and cost recovery

According to the International Water Association (IWA) the annual water and sewer bill of a household using 200 m3 per year was US$ 300 per year, or US$ 25 per month. This was the second lowest bill among 12 EU countries included in the IWA survey. [ [http://www.iwahq.org/uploads/sgs/sg%20on%20statistic%20and%20ec/doc%20and%20reports/IWA%20international%20statistics%200806.pdf IWA 2006 International Statistics for Water Services] ]

According to the consulting firm NUS the water tariff (without sewerage) in Spain is US$ 0.93/m3 in 2006. [ [http://www.nusconsulting.com/downloads/2006WaterSurvey.pdf NUS] ]

According to a study carried out by a consulting firm for the German professional association BGW in 2006 the average annual water and sanitation bills in four EU countries were as follows (the study did not cover Spain):

Source: Metropolitan Consulting Group: VEWA - Vergleich europaeischer Wasser- und Abwasserpreise, 2006, p. 7 of the executive summary [http://www.bgw.de/files/pdf/0.1_resource_2006_7_14.pdf]

A recent poll of 2000 by the BBVA Foundation reveals attitudes about water: that price should not rise and that the means of finding more water resources should take priority. [ [http://sustainablespain.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/spain-cheap-water-gets-wasted/ Sustainable Spain] ]

Investment and financing

According to a blog on "Sustainable Spain", Spain spends €6,330 million annually on the capture, transport and extraction of underground water, plus water distribution and sanitation. [ [http://sustainablespain.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/spain-cheap-water-gets-wasted/ Sustainable Spain] ] However, the industry association AGA estimates investments by its members, which supply water to 75% of the population, at "more than €290 million" annually. [ [http://www.asoaga.org/ ASOAGA] ]

See also

EU water policy

External links

* [http://www.aeas.es/aeas/aeashome.htm Asociación Española de Abastecimientos de Agua y Saneamiento (AEAS)]
* [http://www.asoaga.org/aga.htm Asociación Española de Empresas Gestoras de los Servicios de Agua a Poblaciones (AGA)]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Water supply and sanitation in the European Union — still is under the responsibility of each member state. Nevertheless, the European Union established some policies which impact the National water strategies tremendously. However, WSS evolved in every Member State independently until the… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Nicaragua — is provided by a national public utility in urban areas and water committees in rural areas. Despite relatively high levels of investment, access to water in urban areas has barely kept up with population growth, access to urban sanitation has… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply and sanitation in Uruguay — Uruguay is the only country in Latin America that has achieved quasi universal coverage of access to safe drinking water supply and adequate sanitation (for water access see [ JMP [http://www.wssinfo.org/pdf/country/URY wat.pdf] ] and for… …   Wikipedia

  • Water supply — is the process of self provision or provision by third parties of water of various qualities to different users. Irrigation is covered separately. Global access to waterIn 2004 about 3.5 billion people worldwide (54% of the global population) had …   Wikipedia

  • Water heating — is a thermodynamic process using an energy source to heat water above its initial temperature. Typical domestic uses of hot water are for cooking, cleaning, bathing, and space heating. In industry, both hot water and water heated to steam have… …   Wikipedia

  • Spain — <p></p> <p></p> Introduction ::Spain <p></p> Background: <p></p> Spain s powerful world empire of the 16th and 17th centuries ultimately yielded command of the seas to England. Subsequent failure to …   The World Factbook

  • Outline of Spain — …   Wikipedia

  • Architecture and Civil Engineering — ▪ 2009 Introduction Architecture       For Notable Civil Engineering Projects in work or completed in 2008, see Table (Notable Civil Engineering Projects (in work or completed, 2008)).        Beijing was the centre of the world of architecture… …   Universalium

  • Northern Ireland Water — logo Northern Ireland Water Limited is a water company in Northern Ireland. Formerly an executive agency (the Northern Ireland Water Service) within Northern Ireland s Department for Regional Development, it became a government owned company on 1 …   Wikipedia

  • List of dams and reservoirs in Iran — The massive Karun 3 dam, was inaugurated recently[when?] as part of a drive to boost Iran s growing energy demands Dam construction started in Iran in the 1950s. Some fourteen large dams were built with the help of foreign engineers and advisors… …   Wikipedia