Since 1994, the water supply and sanitation sector in Italy underwent a substantial reform process that set out for a modern, more efficient and harmonised water service. Among others, the reform introduced a water tariff system, based on price cap regulation and (partial) cost recovery. In 2011, an attempt to boost private participation in the water service provision backfired and public referenda held last year on 12-13 June introduced a regulatory uncertainty about to what extent, or whether at all, the remuneration of the invested capital is an eligible cost to be recovered through water tariffs. The 2011 abrogative referenda were the first since 1995 that had reached quorum, disclosing deeply held values of many with respect to water price and service provision.

In the aftermath of the referenda, the Presidential Decree 116/2011 repealed the Article 154, paragraph 1 of the Dlgs. 152/2006 concerning the admissible cost of invested capital (previously 7%). Later, the Law Decree 201/2011 gave mandate for regulating water services to the Authority for Energy and Gas (AEEG). A division of the roles between the Ministry for the Environment, the Land and the Sea (MELS) and the AEEG will be specified in the Prime Minister’s Decree the draft version of which is currently subject of political consultation. In meanwhile, the AEEG launched a public consultation about what should be the principles of the WSS regulations.

The seminar sets to summarise the discussion and outcomes of an expert workshop, initiated by the FEEM and the Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), the Italian Nature Protection Agency. Held on June 8th, 2012 as a satellite event of the Green Week conference, the workshop gathered the key actors in the field of the water supply and sanitation, including the representatives of the MELS, AEEG, regional administrations, and water utilities.