What’s unique about the initiative?

For a decade, Eau de Paris (EDP) has been improving Paris’ municipal water supply – a service that used to be fragmented and expensive. Supported by strong political will, the city of Paris has made water management a major democratic issue, ensuring better managed, high-quality and more affordable water supply, backed by a strong environmental strategy addressing the water sector’s economic, civic, social and environmental responsibilities.

Most outstanding results

Eau de Paris today provides a successful model for how to run modern metropolitan water services. As a commercial, publicly owned body, we provide drinking water to 3 million users per year, and our water is still cheaper for users than it was before re-municipalisation in 2010. Our users report 90% satisfaction with our service, and for the seventh year in a row (2018) we’ve been given France’s Customer Service of the Year award.

Our status as a public company, backed by high-performance infrastructure, enables us to guarantee the lowest water price in the region (about €1 per cubic metre for the drinking-water portion of the bill) while re-investing all of our profits into our maintenance and modernisation programmes.

Never before has the issue of water in the city been more talked about, from public fountains and swimming in the Seine, to water as a means to generate green energy or help homeless people or refugees in some of the city’s reception centres. Today, despite a context of a COVID-19-related decline in water consumption and rising costs (which are putting the whole sector under strain), Eau de Paris is in good economic and financial health. Our business model is particularly resilient and represents a strong example of effective, inclusive and sustainable public management.

Covid-19 outbreak impact

At the start of the pandemic, the bottled water industry immediately lobbied for people to use its products, so we re-ran our zero-waste campaign and reiterated our key messages: tap water is safe; drink public water; don’t create more plastic waste. None of our workers had to take a reduction in their paid working hours during the crisis, and we strengthened our contributions to help those struggling to pay their water bills. Our laboratory, which looks at water-borne viruses, worked with Paris University and other public research institutions to track the presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in urban waters (most importantly in used water). For the common good, our work to prove that analysing water is an efficient way to track the course of the pandemic has been made public. Covid-19 has meant a significant decrease in Paris’ water consumption and we will lose at least €12 million this year – a loss that in the short term is not an issue because our current financial situation is robust.

Quote from the evaluation committee

“The Eau de Paris is an outstanding portrait of remunicipalisation in the water sector. It is the story of reclaiming the Paris municipal water services from profit- oriented, unsustainable economic models propagated by big water corporations, in this case as symbolized by Suez and Viola, and the restoration of community values, citizens’ rights, responsibility , quality and efficiency in public service delivery. Eau de Paris has ruptured all the myths of water privatization. Its creation in 2010 put an end to corporate control of water and instead brought in a publicly controlled actor to deliver public good.”
– Akinbode Matthew Oluwafemi.

Read more

To know more, read this in-depth article on Open Democracy. Also, you can scroll down to download the application form filled by this initiative to take part in the Transformative Cities award.