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Investment Pushing Up French Water Bills

Tuesday 01 May 2007

The average household water bill in France was €177 a year in 2004, according to the most recent review of water prices carried out by the French Environment Agency, IFEN.

Whilst prices have risen above the rate of inflation, a large number of the increases are investment led, and there are substantial variations between regions and départements.

Not surprisingly, the southern regions pay the highest bills, as they are the greatest users of water. Thus, whilst the average annual consumption is 165 litre per person per day, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) it is 239 litres.

This goes to explain why, in large measure, PACA has the largest bills of €272 per year, followed by Corse (€222) and Languedoc Roussillon (€195).

At the bottom end are those regions with some of the highest rainfall in France, notably France Comté (€142), Nord-Pas-de-Calais (€147) and Limousin (€150).

Nevertheless, the highest price per metre³ occurs not in the South, but in several départements in Brittany and the North, where there has been the need to invest heavily in water treatment facilities to deal with agricultural pollution.

Whilst on average the price of water is around €3 per metre³, in many areas of the North West the prices are above the national average.

The investment taking place in water treatment explains why, with water consumption only going up by about 1% per year, prices have been rising at twice or three times that rate.

Water bills in France are made up of three main components – water distribution, water treatment, and taxes, and part of the bill comprises a fixed standing charge.

The IFEN figures show an average standing charge of €56 per year, although in some parts of the country it is double this amount.

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