Who is due the 50 litres per inhabitant per day
The benefits envisaged for families and cases when the utility cannot be disconnected
The minimum quantity of water considered as vital and necessary to satisfy essential needs is set as 50 litres per inhabitant per day, for a total of 18.25 cubic metres per year. This is what the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers has ruled on the social water tariff in implementation of the law on the limitation of excessive use of natural resources. In another Decree, the perhaps better-known Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of 26 August 2016 on the limitation of late payment in the integrated water service, the Government, again in compliance with the same regulation, has set limits - delegating the complete definition of the rules to ARERA, the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment - so that service users can access the vital minimum quantity, in particular if in conditions of social-financial hardship.
ARERA has not yet launched this regulation. However, the same Authority has, over the years, held a series of consultations with all those involved and recently prepared a guideline announcing the publication of the definitive provision this summer. In any case, it would appear clear that there is a condition of social-financial hardship each time the user has the right to the social water bonus: i.e. when they live in a family unit with an ISEE (indicator of equivalent economic position) that does not exceed 8,107.50 euros or, if having more than 3 dependent children, that does not exceed 20,000 euros. Considering only domestic residential users, the limits set by the Government in any case provide very clear directives on how the minimum quantity should be guaranteed: first and foremost, the rules prohibit the interruption of the water supply to users in a condition of social-financial hardship, who - according to the repeated intentions of ARERA - are those entitled to the water bonus. For these users, the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of 26 August 2016 explains: “the vital minimum quantity of 50 litres per inhabitant, per day, shall in any case be guaranteed”.
Outside these cases, all resident domestic users must in any case be guaranteed access “to the vital minimum quantity of water at a special tariff”.
Therefore, to simplify: the 50 litres per inhabitant, per day must always be supplied, whether or not the bill is paid, only to users in a condition of social-financial hardship; all others instead are entitled to 50 litres per day, paid at a special tariff. And, in fact, this same Decree specifies that the disconnection of resident domestic users is possible, outside cases of social-financial hardship, only when “failure to pay the bills exceeds an amount equal to the annual price due in connection with the volume of the special bracket”. In any case, it should be recalled that before suspending supply, the Manager is required to make a series of preventive communications, to ensure formal notice of default and, if the user intends to settle their position, to agree to payment schedules by instalments.
Finally, it should be recalled that during this transitional stage, ARERA itself has envisaged, again for residential domestic users, billing by default as three members (the standard average family), setting 1 January 2022 as the cut-off date to allow managers to acquire data in order to align the billing systems to the actual members of the family units, thereby ensuring the effective per capita tariff.