Water saving strategies


Country: Denmark
Type: Policies
Area: Entire City, Region
Actors: Local Gov., Private
Funding: Local Gov., Private
Topics: Sewage
Objectives: Reduce water consumption
Instruments: Green taxes


Since 1989 the Copenhagen Water Supply company succeeded with its efforts to reduce water consumption. In consequence, water consumption in Copenhagen has fallen by 21%. In 1994 the resulting saving in water consumption amounted to a total of nearly 16 million mIn the meantime water saving measures have become an integral part of the daily routine in new areas of water supply. The achievements had been mainly due to the following reasons of good practice:

Concept and aims


Since 1859 Copenhagen Water Supply has administrated the supply of water to the City of Copenhagen. Water was then delivered to the City of Fredriksberg and 17 suburban municipalities. Meanwhile Copenhagen Water Supply has become a regional supplier which delivers water to approximately 1 million people in the Greater Copenhagen area. In 1994 the company supplied a total quantity of 66.2 million m3, of which approximately 46% had been delivered to suburban municipalities. Because of the geographical location of Copenhagen, and due to the urban developments in the areas surrounding Copenhagen, the seven water works are placed at a distance of 15-50 km from the centre of Copenhagen. The total lengths of the transmission and distribution network are approx. 1450 km. In the Greater Copenhagen area 98% of the water supply is based on ground water.

However, the reliance on ground water means that the municipal water company has to face an increased number of environmental problems as the statutory water control order no. 515 of 1988 demands greater control and supervision of water supply plants. In consequence, the Copenhagen Water Supply company had to face serious challenges. Still more borings have to be closed down, because of ground water pollution. Due to pollution the Copenhagen Water Supply has closed borings with a total capacity of 5.4 mill. mper year in 1994. Another 21 mill. mof clean ground water is threatened by pollution sources.

Due to the wide range of chemical substances in untreated and treated water, and in regard to the ecological necessity to reduce groundwater catchment areas, the Copenhagen Water Supply tried to influence consumption patterns of all customer groups. Since 1989 the Copenhagen Water Supply company has initiated information and consultancy projects in order to reduce water consumption. The strategy is mainly target-group oriented:


Basle: Traffic management by transport that suits the city

Since 1989 the total supply for the Greater Copenhagen area had been reduced from 82 mill. mper year to 66.2 mill. min 1994, a total reduction of 15.8 mill. mper year. In the same period the water consumption in the City of Copenhagen has been reduced by 8.9 million cubic metres per year. Up to now the Copenhagen water saving initiatives have put into practice the following projects:

Results and Impacts


So far the water saving strategies of the Copenhagen Water supply company had been very successful. In the City of Copenhagen the total water consumption amounted to only 36 million cubic metres in 1994 compared to nearly 45 million cubic metres in 1989. The consumption is shared out among domestic customers with 23.7 million mindustrial customers with 7.8 million minstitutional customers with 2.5 million mrecreational use with 0.4 million mand the remaining 1.6 million mare unmeasured. Domestic consumers are the main users with approximately two-thirds of the total water supply in Copenhagen.

In 1994 the plan for water supply in the municipality of Copenhagen envisages a reduction in water consumption of 32 million mby the year 2000. The targets for individual customer groups are set at 18.9 million mfor domestic customers, 7.9 million mfor industrial customers, 3.1 million mfor institutional customers, and no changes in the area of recreation and unmeasured consumption for fire extinguishing, pipeline work, meter defects and leaks.

Up to now the Copenhagen Water Supply Company achieved its goals of water use reduction in different areas as it it demonstrated by the following overview of daily water consumption per inhabitant (in litres):

Customer group 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994








Industrial 1 59 54 48 48 46
Institutions 2 20 19 17 16 15
Recreationa 3 3 3 3 2 2
Unmeasured 4 15 19 10 9








The change in unmeasured consumption is to a great extent due to the work of the urban pipeline section. By 1994 the loss in unmeasured consumption had been reduced by 9% and at only 4.3% it is lower than in any other major city in Europe. The saved quantity of water was 149,000 m

Actors and Structures


Copenhagen Water Supply is owned by the municipality of Copenhagen. The offices of the Water Supply are located in the centre of Copenhagen, in the old buildings of the first waterworks. Today the organisation is structured with a Managing Director and four divisions respectively for environmental control and planning, production, distribution and economy and personnel.



All water in Copenhagen is supplied and charged by meters. For all customers the water price is DKK 6.75 per cubic metre. Waste water treatment rates amount to DKK 13.12 per cubic metre. A state tax on piped water is DKK 1.00 per cubic metre and 25 % VAT is paid on each rate. The total water price in 1995 is DKK 25.94 per cubic metre.

In retrospect, the total water price has since 1989 been increased by more than 200%. The development of the sewage treatment system made it necessary to increase the waste water rate to DKK 5.13 per cubic metre in 1990. Another reason is the addition of state tax on piped water which was introduced in 1994. The state tax is supposed to increase to DKK 5.00 per cubic meter by the year 1998.

Source of Information


Copenhagen Water Supply 1995: Annual Report 1994, Copenhagen

Hansen, Anne 1996: Urban water use and water saving measures in Copenhagen, paper presented to the EA.UE conference on Water Saving Strategies in Urban Renewal, Vienna 1st-3th February 1996


Telefon:++45 / 33 / 42 52 62
Telefax:++45 / 33 / 42 59 10
Address:Copenhagen Water Supply
Studiestaede 54
P.O. Box 372
DK - 1554 Copenhagen V


Copenhagen :


The City of Copenhagen has 467,000 inhabitants which live in a relatively small area of 88.2 square kilometres. It is a densely populated city with 5,316 residents per square kilometre. The Copenhagen Municipality is the seat of the Government and Parliament, as well as of a number of supervisory institutions. It is the centre of finance and commerce.

After the abolishion of the Greater Copenhagen Council in 1990 the municipality of Copenhagen has the responsibility for certain regional tasks for the central parts of Greater Copenhagen and the neighbouring areas of the region of north-eastern Zealand. The City has a considerable proportion of older and small-sized houses which were built before 1945. Housing areas consist mainly of residential blocks, while single-family houses only have a share of 7% of the buildings. The population of Copenhagen consists of a relative high proportion of elderly and young people. The number of households is 265,850.



Project was added at 27.06.96
Project was changed at 07.08.97

Extract from the database 'SURBAN - Good practice in urban development', sponsored by: European Commission, DG XI and Land of Berlin
European Academy of the Urban Environment · Bismarckallee 46-48 · D-14193 Berlin · fax: ++49-30-8959 9919 · e-mail: