Water, public property and L’Eau de Paris

"Since 2019, this organization has carried out the Défis Innovation, in which, in collaboration with the Richelieu Committee, it calls on SMEs, startups, medium and large companies, as well as academia, to propose solutions to the challenges of water in France."
Por Antonio López
Jun 27, 2022

Water is the most important resource in our lives, after oxygen. We could survive without food for about 40 days, but we would not survive more than three days without drinking water. 60% of our body is made up of water; Planet Earth is made up of 70% water.

Water is a synonymous of life; without it, life simply cannot continue.

This time, I would like to share with you some points that I learned from the case of  L’Eau de Paris, the public company in charge of supplying water to all of Paris. This is a public organization that does its job very well; it is an example for many European cities (and all over the world), since, in addition to bringing water to all Parisians, its prices are very accessible and its quality is very high.

This organism did not come out of nowhere. It is the result of a political effort to centralize the water supply, with a perspective of public property and sustainability.

Nowadays, to combat the consumption of bottled water (on average, French people consume 40 gallons of bottled water per year) and the litter that this generates, there are around 749 public fountains throughout the city of Paris, including fountains with mineralized water, available for local and external consumption.



Unfortunately, water has become a business.

Turning this vital resource into a property in the hands of a small group of companies that, in addition to privatizing the resource, contribute to environmental pollution through their plastic bottles. As an example, Mexico and Thailand are the two countries that consume the most bottled water in the world, with an annual consumption of 274 liters per person.

There´s a lot to lern from L’Eau de Paris. One of the things that can be learned from it is his ability to collaborate with the different groups of French society to find solutions to challenges related to water.

Since 2019, this organization has carried out the Défis Innovation, in which, in collaboration with the Richelieu Committee, it calls on SMEs, startups, medium and large companies, as well as academia, to propose solutions to the challenges of water in France. For example,  how to create a 21st Century universal fountain to reinforce free access to water.

Each participant should present an innovative and feasible solution, and L’Eau de Paris will be in charge of implementing it.

These types of activities represent an effort to promote “open innovation”, through which the public and private sectors come together in the search for creative solutions. How could we imitate this type of events in our governments (state, municipal)?

Definitely, the case of  L’Eau de Paris represents an example of how governments can be efficient in water supply, ensuring that this vital resource is accessible and constant, preventing it from becoming a privatized resource, with negative impacts on the environment and that only benefits a small group of companies.

References: 

Eau de Paris suministra agua más limpia y más barata. Ciudades Transformadoras. Retrieved from  https://transformativecities.org/es/atlas/agua4/ 

Escobar, P. (2017). París se llena de lujo con sus nuevos bebederos públicos de agua mineral. Alternatrip. Retrieved from http://alternatrip.org/paris-bebedores-publicos-de-agua-mineral/ 

Polonyi, A. (2020). How Paris’s public water supply is beating Covid. OpenDemocracy. Retrieved from https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/how-pariss-public-water-supply-beating-covid/ 

Rodríguez, A. (2020). Eau de Paris, innovación abierta en el sector público. iagua. Retrieved from https://www.iagua.es/blogs/alba-rodriguez-otero/eau-paris-innovacion-abierta-sector-publico 

Villanueva, D. (2021). México, el mayor consumidor de agua embotellada en el mundo. La Jornada. Retrieved from https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2021/04/02/economia/mexico-el-mayor-consumidor-de-agua-embotellada-en-el-mundo/ 

Antonio López

Antonio López

Founder of The Bookish Man.
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