Water Institutions and Management in Switzerland

The main characteristics of water management in Switzerland are its big diversity, strong decentralisation, and different modes of management between drinking water supply and sanitation. Both, the distribution of water and sanitation, fall within the competences of the cantons, which normally delegate this mandate down to the municipalities. The water sector in Switzerland is organised as a local monopoly, with the most common organisational structure being the municipal water service for drinking water supply, and the (non-autonomous) municipal management for sanitation services. Although significant changes are not expected in the sector in the near future, there are important features and dynamics that may help understanding how the sector will most likely evolve. Firstly, and especially in what concerns water supply operators, there has been a trend towards the autonomisation and professionalisation of the public entities. Secondly, there is a growing trend towards regionalisation of operators both for economic, technical, and security reasons. Thirdly, there is a general consensus that the degree of water liberalisation is unlikely to increase in the near future. And, finally, public opinion is considered by the specialists as the most important driving force of the Swiss water sector.

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