Why should Water Supply be a Public Affair

Thursday, 11. October 2007 | 15:30 Uhr


Kurt Rüegg


ewl, Lucerne


Dr. Kurt Rüegg, ewl Luzern gives his presentation the following title: “Why should water supply be a public task?” According to the Federal Constitution, the Cantons dispose of water resources without any interest in making a profit. Water is a public good, but not a commodity; however, public hands might not be the best ones. Communities guarantee water supply, but do not render services themselves (take Bern as an Example) or they delegate it to third parties like in Zug. ewl Luzern is a private company limited by shares, according to the Swiss Code of Obligations. It withdraws its water mainly from the region of the Kleine Emme River. It has to be mentioned that there is a conflict of interests between re-naturalisation of rivers and the effort to ensure clean drinking water. In France and Great Britain, water quality has decreased after privatization of services, and now meets, at best, required minimum standards. In Switzerland, 90 % of the population is against privatization of the water supply. For Infrastructure Minister Leuenberger, water market liberalization is not under consideration. Water supply is based on trust. Conclusions: Water supply as a natural monopoly is a public issue. Quality and maintenance are decisive criteria. Well organized water supply can be rendered by the private sector. Benchmarking and professionalism are decisive. Public-private partnerships can be a good option. Tendering for water concessions according to the EU is not the right model. Concessions can lead to failure. Questions/comments from the audience: ewl is a private-public partnership. Outsourcing is possible, for example, in accounting. Bottled water does not have anything to do with water services; it is an issue of marketing and might be an image factor.

Kurt Rüegg (CV in German)

Kurt Rüegg studierte Physik an der ETH Zürich und Universität Zürich. In seiner industriellen Tätigkeit befasste er sich mit der Entwicklung von Grenz- und Oberflächen, dünnen Schichten (Nanotechnologie) sowie dem Bereich der Verpackung.

Seit 1995 verantwortlich für die Wasser- und Erdgasversorgung bei ewl energie wasser luzern .

Seit 2007 Präsident des Schweizerischen Vereins des Gas- und Wasserfaches (SVGW).

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