Economies of Scale and Scope in Australian Urban Water Utilities
Andrew C. Worthington
Griffith University; Financial Research Network (FIRN)
May 16, 2011
This paper estimates economies of scale and scope for 55 major Australian urban utilities over the period 2005/06 to 2008/09. The models used to specify operating and capital costs as a function of chemical and microbiological compliance, water losses, water quality and service, water main breaks, total connected properties, and urban water supplied. The input variables used to help determine water utility costs include the density of properties served and the sourcing of water from bulk suppliers, groundwater, recycling and surface water. In terms of economies of scale, the evidence suggests strong economies of scale at relatively low levels of output (50-75% of mean output). In terms, of product-specific economies of scale (increasing an output in isolation), there is substantially stronger evidence that the operating costs of urban water utilities would benefit from increasing chemical compliance, reducing water quality and service complaints, and increasing the number of connected properties, while capital costs would benefit from reducing water losses and the number of water 15 main breaks. For economies of scope, it is clear that there are substantial cost benefits from the joint production of treated quality water delivered across a network with minimal water losses and main breaks. The main cost advantage at all levels of output is decreasing water losses, and this would appear to benefit both operating and capital costs.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Economies of Scale, Economies of Scope, Cost Efficiency, Urban Water Utilities
JEL Classification: C21, D24, L95working papers series
Date posted: May 18, 2011
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