Tap Water and the Public Policy

Monday, July 14, 2014: 7:45 PM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Alena SMELOVA , Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Water is the source of life on the earth and the driving force of human development. The diamond-water paradox presented by A.Smith shows the underestimated economic value of water. However, it has its social value that can be viewed from human dimension perspective.

The knowledge of how citizens perceive the drinking water is essential to understanding the political, economic, technological context of the public policy. According to sociological survey, 82% of citizens in Saint-Petersburg are not satisfied with the quality of tap water. These figures demonstrate, that despite the fact the city water is cleaned by ultraviolet and has biomonitoring system to meet the high requirements of international water standards, there are some hidden issues explaining this situation.

SPb water is a nexus of generations inhabiting this place: it keeps the memory of past times, preserves the spiritual fabric of the society and gives an incentive to new generations for further development. However, the industrialization has destroyed this consciousness. The growth of scientific knowledge has enabled experts to make a strict distinction between bad natural water that had adverse effects on people health and good filtered water that had the status of paid public services. 

It is believed, SPb water is rusty and dangerous to drink, because city officials take bribes and do not provide the modernization of water infrastructure system in time. Pubic dissatisfaction takes the form of disagreement with the public policy. It prompts citizens to buy bottled water sold by water transnationals, although it is the same tap water, in fact. As a result, SPb water market is showing 12% annual growth.

Basing on the citizens’ concerns on the water problem, one can construct the Index of tap water as an indicator of the level of public confidence in the public policy.