Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Molinos-Senanate M., Mocholi-Arce M. and Sala-Garrido R. (2016)

Estimating the environmental and resource costs of leakage in water distribution systems: A shadow price approach

Revista : Science of the Total Environment
Volumen : 568
Páginas : 180-188
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


Water scarcity is one of the main problems faced by many regions in the XXIst century. In this context, the need to reduce leakages from water distribution systems has gained almost universal acceptance. The concept of sustainable economic level of leakage (SELL) has been proposed to internalize the environmental and resource costs within economic level of leakage calculations. However, because these costs are not set by the market, they have not often been calculated. In this paper, the directional-distance function was used to estimate the shadow price of leakages as a proxy of their environmental and resource costs. This is a pioneering approach to the economic valuation of leakage externalities. An empirical application was carried out for the main Chilean water companies. The estimated results indicated that for 2014, the average shadow price of leakages was approximately 32% of the price of the water delivered. Moreover, as a sensitivity analysis, the shadow prices of the leakages were calculated from the perspective of the water companies’ managers and the regulator. The methodology and findings of this study are essential for supporting the decision process of reducing leakage, contributing to the improvement of economic, social and environmental efficiency and sustainability of urban water supplies.