Enhancement of Waste Water Charges and Water Extraction Charges to a Comprehensive Charge for the Use of Aquatic Ecosystems


Project funded by the Federal Environmental Agency (FKZ 370926201)


09/2009 − 02/2011


Final conference: 18.02.2011


River Mulde

The use of economic instruments in water protection policy has a long tradition in Germany in the shape of waste water charges at the federation's level and water extraction charges at federal states’ level. Equally long is the critical reflection on these instruments by scientists. A comprehensive up to date analysis of experiences with them with respect to economic efficiency, environmental effectiveness and feasibility is still lacking.

Article 9 WFD, especially the call for the integration of environmental and resource costs, gives reason to put waste water charges and water extraction charges to the test: To what extent do they contribute to the accomplishment of water management aims provided by the WFD? Are there options to improve their effectiveness and efficiency by changing their design? Do they serve as a blueprint for an extension of charges to be levied on other water uses? Hence, the question arises which use or consumption of ecosystem services provided by aquatic ecosystems can be subjected to economic instruments, e.g. regarding the sources of diffuse pollution. In this respect conformity with Article 9 WRD provides only one criterion for the evaluation. Modernizing the water related charges requires taking into account the requirements of the Basic Law that contains a catalogue of types of dues, each provided with different restrictions, limiting their respective use for certain purposes. Additionally, in the light of changing conditions and from an economic and public finance perspective, a review of the particular steering aims of these charges is necessary as well as a diligent reconciliation of old and new governance mechanisms considering their respective ecological and economic effects that are to be expected.