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Local public responsibility for water and sanitation services

Published January 2012

French communes are responsible to their citizens and in the eyes of the law for investment in and management of drinking water and sanitation services. They may unite to fulfi l these missions. Indeed the local scale is the most relevant level for this type of responsibility insofar as the communes are in direct contact with users and consumers. 
The choice of management method - direct or contracted to a private company - is entirely up to them and the choice is always reversible. The communes, or groups of communes, are responsible for monitoring and assessing the performance of their water and sanitation services along with the effective participation of all stakeholders in decisions related to the organisation and implementation of these services. 
While respecting the decentralised powers of the municipal areas and their groupings, the State fi xes administrative regulations for these services, as well as sanitary and environmental objectives. It establishes and ensures that quality thresholds for water supplied to users and for used water which is treated and inputted into ecosystems are respected.