The Development of Performance Indicators: A Key Tool in the Management and Regulation of Water Services and Sanitation

Special Report: Water: An Assessment of the Resource
By Laetitia Guérin-Schneider, Michel Nakhla

In the field of water and sewerage services, the notion of quality has undergone a fundamental change over the last fifty years. Abandoning a purely quantitative perspective, more diversified objectives have been progressively integrated. Methods of management were adapted to these new requirements, with four notable developments: guarantied standard schemes, quality management, service standardisation and quality regulation by local authorities. Performance indicators are important in each of these management methods. However, depending on whether the objectives are fixed by the operator or imposed upon him and whether the commitment is on the means or on the results, the stakes are very different. These questions refer to two types of regulation, one based on self-regulation, the other on a more direct action on the part of public authorities. However they do converge on the idea that reputation can be an incentive. Numerous initiatives are in hand to develop emulation by comparison. Even if the use of indicators must remain cautious, benchmarking could nevertheless appear in France, based upon what already exists elsewhere.

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