Water’s ‘Big Five’ starting to slip

The 2010 Water Yearbook, published by infrastructure law firm Pinsent Masons, has revealed a sharp shift in the control of the water markets. In less than a decade the big […]

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By Tom Gibson

The 2010 Water Yearbook, published by infrastructure law firm Pinsent Masons, has revealed a sharp shift in the control of the water markets. In less than a decade the big five (Suez, Veolia, SAUR, Agbar Water and RWE), have seen their share fall from 71% in 2001 to 32% in 2010.

The latest edition of the yearbook reveals a rise in the number of people now served by the private sector as 12% of the world’s population or 862 million people and an increase of 60m on last year’s figures.

Author David Lloyd Owen said: “One of the most encouraging developments for the private water industry was the UN resolution on 30th September recognising the role of non-state service providers and re-affirming that the delegation of services to third parties still means that the state is responsible for ensuring that people receive safe water and sanitation services.”

Researchers also found that the private sector is becoming more diverse. In 1999, 84% of companies covered by the yearbook were in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The figure is now 45%. China and Singapore, for example, are looking towards new markets such as the Middle East.

Mark Lane, partner and head of the Water Sector Group at Pinsent Masons, added: “There remains a pressing need to re-launch the World Water Vision’s target of universal access to water and sanitation by 2025 as it is clear that the water and sanitation targets for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals will only be partially met. “