Water research school

Lund University

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Management for the water sector

This 3 hec course is given by Sweden Water Research

DATE: 9-13 April 2018 (starting 10.15 April 9, ending 14:30 April 13).

A project report is then to be handed in no later than 5 weeks after the end of the course week

VENUE: LTH, V-house, Lecture room V:D, Lund


For many reasons, water is not any general commodity. One interesting aspect is that ownership of water is unclear if it exists at all. Most water service providers operate as monopolies. This leads to a prizing situation that cannot follow a market situation. Further on, most water utilities, as well as flood protection, wastewater management and other ecosystem protection service providers are public utilities. Several types of public utilities are found, with varying levels of autonomy and types of governance, even in one region. The level of autonomy affects the way in which a utility can operate. A department of a municipality is clearly politically governed, while a company wholly or majority-owned by the public sector has a less pronounced political control.

Course objectives

After taking this advanced course, Management for the water sector, the participants will be able to understand and analyze the differences, benefits and limitations of public water service providers with different organizational structures in different countries. The participants will be able to understand and scrutinize different forms of performance measurements, among them benchmark systems for the water sector. Market mechanisms, funding and auditing of public water service providers will be described and two different examples of how a water utility is organized and developed will be reviewed. The participants will choose a relevant management topic and individually or in pair disseminate it and write a short report on how the topic should be understood and applied in a given situation.


The examination will be an oral presentation of the chosen management theme during the study week and a short project report to be handed in not later than 5 weeks after the end of the course week.


Course leader is Prof. Kenneth M Persson, Water Resources Engineering, Lund University.

From Lund University, Anna Thomasson, Business and administration, and Jonas Nordström, Economics, will also give classes. An example from the development of a large utility by merging smaller municipal departments (VA SYD) will be presented by Prof. Henrik Aspegren. Interesting perspective and comparisons of water service providers in Nordic countries will be given by Prof. Tapio Katko from Tampere University of Technology in Finland. How extensive use of benchmarking tools to effectively monitor performance targets including economic performance will be exemplified by Mr. Magnus Montelius, formerly at the Swedish Water and Wastewater Association.








Presentation of the course and participants

Scientific status of different organizational choices. There is no one single best choice, but some are better than the others/Anna Thomasson, LU

What is the correct price for water?/ Jonas Nordström, LU

Four municipalities joining their resources. Organisation, budget, operation and challenges/ Henrik Aspegren, LU (VA SYD)


The historical background to South Sweden Water Supply and its strategy 2016-2030/Kenneth M Persson, LU (Sweden Water Research)

Lessons learnt from 20 years research on Water management in Finland/ Tapio Katko, Tampere

Work with themes

Economy in the water sector in Sweden; sustainability index/Magnus Montelius, Svenskt vatten


Work with themes

Reports, Summary, evaluation



Teamwork themes for the participants to choose from:

       1)      The theoretical background to water management schemes for a municipality

       2)      Critical analysis of two municipal water companies – what to do and what not to do

       3)      Comparison of municipal and industrial water management: similarities and differences

       4)      The humans are the most important resource: an analysis of staff and HR-work in a water company

       5)      A survey of organizational structures in Europe. Examples from the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Finland

       6)      What does International Water Association (IWA) say about water management – benchmarking in practice (Performance Indicators for Water Supply Services: Third Edition)

       7)      Lessons learnt from the European Benchmarking Co-operation (EBC) benchmarking programme for European water- & wastewater utilities (

       8)      My dream utility – and how to get there

       9)      It´s the economy, stupid. The economy of the water sector


       For more information contact Kenneth M Persson