Spanish conference of cities for public water management

Ten major Spanish cities support the creation of a Spanish network of cities for public water management

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On the last 3rd and 4th of November 2016, the Madrid City Council (Ayuntamiento de Madrid) together with the civil society organization Red Agua Publica, organised a conference to discuss the topic of public water management in Madrid. The event also saw the adoption of a declaration defending public water management and established a network of cities for public water management, signed by more than 10 major Spanish cities, including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza, Valladolid and Terrassa.

In addition to the political representatives, the meeting brought together social, environmental, political and trade union organizations who promote public, nonprofit, transparent and participative water management. Indeed, the discussions showed that, in most of the cities in attendence, the delegation of water, sewage and waste-water treatment services to an external (private) operator had not always brought the intended results.

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Nevertheless, the discussions also showed that public management is not just about ownership, but it is also about a specific management model. This specific model should be centered not only on performance but also on the recognition of water as a common good and a human right, the inclusion of stakeholder participation and the respect for transparency. This approach was confirmed by the presentations of Eau de Paris, represented by Ms Célia Blauel, President of the operator and of Aqua Publica Europea, and of the recently remunincipalised operator of Montpellier, represented by Mr René Revol, which both underlined the success of remunicipalisation in their cities.

Indeed, after years of privatization, often due to local budgetary constraints, Spain has started embracing the remunicipalisation trend that can be observed both at European and international level. Recent examples include the cities of Valladolid and Terrassa, which decided to revert to public management after the end of 20 and 75 year-long concession contracts.

The final declaration is available here (in Spanish).