Ministry for Agriculture, Nutrition and Environment - MAGRAMA (Spain)

Regulation

Regulatory Model

In Spain, there is no National Regulatory Agency. Therefore, Spanish regulatory framework is less developed than in other countries although by law municipalities are responsible for providing drinking water and wastewater services. That implies a politic and administrative control by every municipilaty in regard to price, investments, water quality and service. Moreover, price is surveyed by Comisiones de Precios (Price Commissions) of each Autonomus Region in Spain. Additionally, according to article 30 of Decree 140/2013 (Sanition criteria for drinking water), for every drinking water system which provides more than 10 cubic meter per day, it is mandatory to send daily quality parameters to SINAC (online platform developed under Health and Consumption Ministry).

Market Structure

Water is scarce in the majority of Spain and that has implied investing in big works in order to provide water.
Municipalities are responsible for chosing amongst several water management options such as: providing service directly, joining grouping of municipalities or agreeing with a specialized company (public, public and private or private in concession). In all these cases, the municipalities own the infrastructure.
There are many operators for drinking water and waste water services but few of them sum up a big percentage of the market share. There is a high difference in specialization depending on the company size.
Only in one Autonomous Region there is a single operator that provides all water services for the whole Region. In other cases water and waste water services are provided by many different operators within the Region. Additionally there are cases in which the drinking water company provides billing service for urban waste service operator.

Tariff Setting

The tariff system usually adopted by operators consists of a fixed part and a variable part (blocks) based on the volume of water consumed. But there are many cases and differences between tariff structures and rebates. This is due to different aspects such as water scarcity, population, social and economic circumstances, ...
Tariffs are approved by municipalities except in the cases where municipalities join in Grouping of municipalities or make an agreement with an Autonomous Region, in which tariffs also need their approval.

Service Quality

There is no benchmarking amongst drinking water and waste water operators. The majority of good practices in drinking water, waste waster and reused water processes and services fall upon operators.
It is remarkable that SINAC online platform gathers water quality information from almost all water providers.

The Regulator

Characteristics

Legal basis

Decree 140/2013
Laws regarding Basin Agencies

Number of employees

 

Budget

 

Contacts

Email: eorteu@magrama.es

Website: www.magrama.gob.es

Relevant Entities

 

Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment

Operators’ Association

Ministry of Health and Consumption

The Sector

Country

Service Coverage

Number of operators

Ownership and management of services

  Ownership Management
DW & WW Pub. Priv. Pub. Priv. Other
100% 0% 47% 36% 17%

Volume of activity

Economic and financial data

Sector

Sector Description

Specialized companies (public or private) are increasing their share of the market in water and wastewater services due to economic crisis, decreasing European funds, legal requirements from Europe (directives), customer demands, social context and search of efficiency.

Legal and institutional framework

In Spain, there is no National Regulatory Agency. Therefore, Spanish regulatory framework is less developed than in other countries although by law municipalities are responsible for providing drinking water and wastewater services. That implies a politic and administrative control by every municipilaty in regard to price, investments, water quality and service. Moreover, price is surveyed by Comisiones de Precios (Price Commissions) of each Autonomus Region in Spain. Additionally, according to article 30 of Decree 140/2013 (Sanition criteria for drinking water), for every drinking water system which provides more than 10 cubic meter per day, it is mandatory to send daily quality parameters to SINAC (online platform developed under Health and Consumption Ministry).

Market Structure

Water is scarce in the majority of Spain and that has implied investing in big works in order to provide water.
Municipalities are responsible for choosing amongst several water management options such as: providing service directly, joining grouping of municipalities or agreeing with a specialized company (public, public and private or private in concession). In all these cases, the municipalities own the infrastructure.
There are many operators for drinking water and waste water services but few of them sum up a big percentage of the market share. There is a high difference in specialization depending on the company size.
Only in one Autonomous Region there is a single operator that provides all water services for the whole Region. In other cases water and waste water services are provided by many different operators within the Region. Additionally there are cases in which the drinking water company provides billing service for urban waste service operator.

Ownership and management of services

  Ownership Management
DW & WW Public Private Public Private Other (1)
100% 0% 47% 36% 17%

Note 1: In Spain there is a management model very common which is called “empresa de economía mixta” (mixed economy company) with public and private participation in, usually, similar percentages.

Country profile

Main indicators of the water sector

Service Coverage

Number of operators

Volume of activity (source: INE 2012)

Economic and financial data

Evolution

In the last years water and wastewater services tariffs have increased significantly on the grounds of higher quality service achievement. Outsourcing has been boosted due to economic crisis and required specialized water and wastewater services. Water treatment plants exploitation has been developed very fast due to sanitation and waste water treatment European objectives. Also, investments have been cut back due to economic crisis ant there are some Autonomous Regions under 100% European directive compliance.

« back