UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

David Zetland, Leiden University College The Hague

The evolution of the Dutch drinking water sector

Date and Location

Friday, January 19, 2018, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
1017 Wickson

Abstract

Dutch drinking water companies now deliver safe affordable water to the entire population, but this result was not planned. It emerged, rather, from an evolutionary process in which various pressures on the commons resulted in changes to drinking water systems that addressed old concerns but uncovered new problems. Our analytical narrative traces this problem-solution-new problem pattern through four eras in which a common-pool dilemma is addressed by a private-good solution (1850-1880), a club-good solution (1880-1910) and public good solution (1910-1950) before returning to a private-good solution in the last 1950-1990 era. Actions, like the dates just given, were not always exact or effective, as the process was shaped by changing social norms regarding the distribution of costs and benefits from improved water services. This Dutch history, while unique, supplies insights for improving drinking water services elsewhere.

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