Water Supply Regionalization: A Critical Evaluation

by Robert M. Clark, (M.ASCE), Engrg. Systems Analyst; Drinking Water Research Div., Municipal Environmental Research Lab., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, Ohio,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1979, Vol. 105, Issue 2, Pg. 279-294

Document Type: Journal Paper


The Safe Drinking Water Act will cause a careful examination of the way water is handled before it is delivered to the consumer. A part of the Act explicitly encourages development of regional water supplies. Federal policy makers tend to interpret regionalization as meaning a centralized system with one single large-scale plant. There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach and there is some evidence that larger supplies provide high quality water. These quality and economies of scale arguments are examined and evidence is provided that there are limits to the efficient size of water supply systems. Given these limits, the issue to be considered is one of decentralized plants serving one regional authority versus independent systems. The efficiency of a regional authority might be maintained at the expense of losing individual political autonomy.

Subject Headings: Water quality | Water supply | Water conservation | Water supply systems | Safety | Drinking water | Federal government | Water level

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