SMAT's CEO represents Aqua Publica at OECD's workshop on the performance of utilities for wastewater collection and treatment
On 31st January, Armando Quazzo, SMAT’s CEO, participated on behalf of Aqua Publica Europea in the OECD workshop The performance of utilities for wastewater collection and treatment hosted by the European Commission in Brussels.
Quazzo reaffirmed the strong commitment of APE’s members to improve transparency in the water sector and welcomed the new public information requirements in the European Commission's proposed revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. However, he also drew the audience’s attention to the difference between making information available for transparency purposes and carrying out a benchmarking exercise for performance improvement.
Joining similar comments from other stakeholders, including water regulators, Quazzo explained with concrete examples how benchmarking should be based on robust analytic methodologies to offset contextual factors, which are particularly relevant in the water sector. The larger the geographic scale of benchmarking, the higher the risk of distortions in the comparative assessment, thus negatively impacting transparency objectives.
Quazzo reminded that where compulsory benchmarking exercises exist at national level, they have usually been effective in improving operators’ performances and increasing investments, but he also noted that the existence of an independent regulator able to provide economic incentives (or sanctions) under a clear political mandate is key to achieving this objective.
He concluded that APE was eager to support the work of the OECD, in cooperation with national regulators, to improve the definitions of benchmarking indicators in order to progressively develop indicators that can work at EU scale. He finally stressed the need to focus efforts on improving the performance of smaller operators, not only through benchmarking, but also through incentives and governance arrangements that foster consolidation.