Cost of drinking water to rise slightly in 2023

Cost of drinking water to rise slightly in 2023
Tap water is becoming increasingly costly in Brussels. Credit: Belga/ Thierry Roge

Next year, various costs on people's water bills will increase, which will see people in Flanders pay about €17 more for the drinking water component, while consumers in Wallonia will see an increase of around €16.

In Flanders, the increase in price is the result of new rates for drinking water which were recently defined. Every six years, the various water companies active in the region (Aquaduin, AGSO Knokke-Heist, De Watergroep and Farys) have to submit a tariff plan to the WaterRegulator, part of the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM). The tariffs will remain in place until 2028.

As a result, an average family of two to three people living in Flanders will pay about €17 more for the drinking water component on its water bill compared to 2022, amounting to a monthly increase of 50 cents per person compared to 2022. Last year, the water bill for an average family with average consumption was €400.

"So this additional price is relatively limited if you compare that with, for example, the increase in other costs such as the energy bill," spokesperson Katrien Smet told Belga News Agency.

Flanders' defence against drought

The VMM noted in its report that the general increase in the tariff paths was mainly due to the companies' strategic goals, as the Water Supply Strategic Plan aims to "guarantee the security of the supply of drinking water in Flanders in a sustainable way, given the changing climate conditions."

This refers to the extreme heat and prolonged periods of drought that plagued the region (and Belgium as a whole) in the previous year, coming to a climax this summer. This resulted in groundwater levels in Flanders dropping for weeks on end.

Water reserves in Flanders during this year's drought. Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

Various strategies, including as part of the government's Blue Deal, are being implemented to minimise water loss and reduce unaccounted-for consumption. "The tariff plans include investments in implementing these plans," the VMM noted.

Changes in Wallonia

Drinking water is just one of the components of people's water bills. Besides costs for the production and delivery of drinking water, there are also costs for water treatment and disposal. In Wallonia, it is the "cost of distribution" (CVD) — the costs incurred by the water company to collect, treat, store and distribute water to each consumer — that will rise, from €2.62 to €2.80 per cubic metre. It is the first increase since 2014.

For an average consumer, this will mean an increase in the bill of €16 per year or €1.33 per month. Out of the 262 municipalities in the Walloon Region, this increase concerns the 190 municipalities served by Walloon water company SWDE and is reportedly necessary to guarantee the modernisation of the equipment and the water supply of the population.

The inter-municipal company inBW has also decided to increase the price of water in its area, due to inflation in personnel, supply and subcontracting costs. However, it points out that this increase is lower than inflation and does not take into account the increase in inBW's energy bill, meaning the impact will be around €2 per month.

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