The contradictions of “Alternative” Service Delivery: Governance, Business Models, and Sustainability in Municipal Water Supply

Furlong, Kathryn and Karen Bakker (2010). The contradictions “Alternative” Service Delivery: Governance, Business Models, and Sustainability in Municipal Water Supply. Working Paper: Manuscript submitted to Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy vol. 28 issue 2.

Leaky governance: Alternative service delivery and the myth of water utility independence

Furlong, K. (2016) Leaky governance: Alternative service delivery and the myth of water utility independence. Vancouver, UBC Press.

About the Book: Municipalities face important water supply challenges. These are widely attributed to local government politicization. Neoliberal reforms have only exacerbated the strained relationships between water utilities and local governments. In response, organizational reform to increase utility autonomy through alternative service delivery (ASD) has been promoted around the world. For its proponents, ASD offers independence from municipal government without relinquishing control over the utility; for its detractors, it is privatization under another name. Yet the organizational barriers offered by ASD are at best leaky. Deeply interdependent, both water management and municipal governance must be strengthened to meet contemporary water supply needs.

Leaky Governance explores ASD’s relation to neoliberalization, water supply, and local governance. Drawing on economic geography and political ecology, Kathryn Furlong examines organizational models for water supply and how they are affected by shifting governance and institutional environments. Her analysis of Ontario paints a complex picture of both ASD and municipal government.

Leaky Governance addresses urgent and topical questions in urban governance and water management, tackling increasingly pressing environmental, political, and social issues surrounding water supply and their relationship to urban governance and economics, as well as to broader issues in public policy.

For further information and a time-limited discount, see the attached flyer.