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Water bills in France set to rise between 6% and 12%

Rising electricity costs at treatment plants are not currently covered by government’s energy cap

Water prices are decided by local authorities with no option for households to switch supplier Pic: r.classen / Shutterstock

Water bills are to rise across much of France – another effect of rising inflation. 

Many local councils have already voted to approve price increases, with most being  between 6% and 12%.

Electricity prices quadrupled at treatment plants

This is due to rising energy costs associated with making water drinkable, as well as rises to the price of chemicals used to treat water, such as chlorine and limewater.

Prices will reportedly rise 10% on average in Clermont-Ferrand, for example, and 9.5% in Roubaix (Nord). 

The mayor of Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes) said the new price had not yet been voted on but would rise by 13% if the full effects of inflation were passed on to consumers. 

This is a result of electricity prices quadrupling over the last two years.

Local authorities decide price

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has suggested electricity prices could be capped for water treatment plants. These are not covered by the government’s energy price protection.

Read more: Rising energy bills in France: we recap the aid available in 2023

The government has said it will not introduce price protection for consumers as it did for electricity and gas, as this would be complicated since there are 10,000 different tariffs, and it would risk further fuelling inflation. 

Prices are decided by local authorities and depend on the quality of equipment and local investment.

Geographical constraints and the density of the population also contribute to the variable price of water.

20% of drinking water is lost to leaks

According to utility company Veolia, 45% of a household’s bill pays for the production and distribution of drinking water, 37% goes towards collecting and treating wastewater, and 18% is made up of taxes.

Read more: France must manage water better, researchers say after summer droughts

Unlike with other utilities, it is not possible to choose your water provider, as these are selected by local authorities.

Prices can be found on your water bill, or you can search the price in many (but not all) French communes via the website

The government is due to present a series of measures around water at the end of January, which could modify regulations on use.

Less than one per cent of water in France comes from reused wastewater, compared to 8% in Italy and 14% in Spain.

The announcements are also expected to address the problem of leaks in the network. In France, 20% of drinking water is lost due to leaks. 

Read more: Dogs trained to sniff out leaks in French drinking water pipe system

The age of the system is a significant factor but another reason is ground movement.

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