With its current annual production of over 400 million cubic metres of drinking water, Wallonia produces over 55% of total Belgian water supply. One third of this production is exported to the other two Belgian regions, Brussels and Flanders.
In the past, water supply in Belgium was a public monopoly, usually handled by the local authority. These authorities discharged this responsibility directly through their own services, through a special agency established by the authority, or indirectly through a joint agency established with other authorities, or by granting a concession to an outside body.
Accordingly the water industry structure in Wallonia - inherited from
the federal Belgian state - is something of a mosaic. The four main
suppliers alone account for 84% of the 1,300,000 connected clients.
The most important supplier is the Walloon Water Company (Swde) which
supplies 55% of buildings. The other three main suppliers are: the Inter-Authority
Liege Water Company (CILE - 17%), AQUASAMBRE (8%) and the Inter-Authority
Water Agency for Central Brabant Wallon (IECBW - 4%). 75 other supply
companies share the remaining 16% of the market.
The European Directive 2000/60/EC establishes a framework for a “community policy in the water sector” and plans, by 2015, to establish “a good state of surface, and underground, water systems”. The implementation of this directive requires significant changes in water management policies in each Member State.
In Wallonia, the consolidation or merger of water supply companies and agencies by hydrographic sub-basin (14 altogether) and the creation of a single water production company is under way.
The primary objective, within such a perspective, is to maintain a strong public structure made up of fewer supply operations, but of sufficient size to allow them to both face and overcome future challenges.
The final goal, naturally enough, is to supply each Walloon citizen with sufficient, quality water at a standard price. The current average price is 2.2€ per cubic metre.
A joint structure will be organised to provide for the strategic and operational relationships, and co-ordination, between these different supply operations and the new water production company. The establishment of such a structure is one element of the general plan for restructuring the water industry in Wallonia.
This proposal is included in the “Contract of the Future”
adopted by the Walloon Government - although it has yet to be officially
adopted and implemented.