Fresh water prices in Denmark are the highest in the world, according to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). While the Danish water suppliers claim the high prices are good for the environment, the food and agriculture industries are finding the costs hard to bear.
According to the Copenhagen Post, the survey of water prices across 20 Western nations revealed Denmark to be by far the most expensive.
With prices of USD 6.7 per cubic metre, Danish water costs almost one dollar more per measure than in second-placed Scotland, and USD 6.20 more than in Mexico, the cheapest of the bunch.
Head of the Danish water and wastewater supply association (DANVA) Carl-Emil Larsen, however, claimed that Denmark has long-standing policy that all costs related to fresh water and wastewater disposal should be paid by the consumer. “They don’t do that in countries like Italy,” he said.
The OECD also argued that high water costs can be beneficial to the environment, theorising that when consumers pay high costs they appreciate the scarcity of the resource and its true value. This in turn, it is claimed leads to greater water conservation. “We can see that Danes are saving more water,” stated Larsen. “Over the past 20 years we’ve seen a considerable drop in water consumption, so expensive water does lead us to conserve it.”
Statistics have shown that Danish water consumption in dairy farms, agriculture and slaughterhouses has fallen dramatically, but that these high consumption groups are now feeling the economic strain of the prices, with many saying they are not prepared to tolerate the charges any longer.
”We’re at our pain threshold,” said Danish Agricultural and Food Council environmental manager Annette Christiansen. “The food industry can’t save any more water than we’re already doing now. The difference in water prices between Denmark and other countries is distorting competition within the food industry.”