Multifaceted intra-city water system arrangements

Multifaceted intra-city water system arrangements in California: Influences and implications for residents

By: Gregory Pierce, Kyra Gmoser-Daskalakis

Some cities directly provide drinking water and other utility services to their residents, whereas others contract out these responsibilities in full or in part, with considerable implications for service and non-service outcomes. There is a robust literature considering reasons for city-private provider binaries, as well as a growing number of studies assessing the rise in special district service provision, mixed service delivery arrangements, and inter- municipal service delivery within metropolitan contexts. On the other hand, there are few studies assessing city-level prevalence of these three main provider types jointly, as well as fully accounting for the diversity of institutional arrangements in drinking water service within individual cities.

This study provides an empirical profile of and analyzes influences on diverse city-level water service provider arrangements using a dataset compiled for all 482 cities in California. The analysis shows, among other things, that cities which run their own water system exclusively are more likely to institute conservation policies, and provide suggestive evidence that residents living in cities served by multiple water systems are exposed to wide variance in water rates. Thus, the report concludes, water system fragmentation within city boundaries has implications for resource management policy and equity in intra-city resident essential service outcomes.

Click the link below to read the full report.


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