National Council Ruling on technical quality indicators (RQTI)
With ruling no. 2672 of 30/03/2021, the Italian National Council confirmed the judgement of the Lombardy Regional Administrative Tribunal, which in 2019 had deemed as improper some of the criteria used in creating technical quality indicators for the integrated water service (S.I.I.), namely those relating to linear water losses (M1a, due to an incongruous assessment of the impact of connections in the calculation formula) and to the quality of the water supplied (M3b and M3c, due to the inclusion in the relative parameters of re-samplings for checking non-compliance).
Indicator M1a helps identify clusters of efficiency gains in the endogenous operating costs for operators under the current tariff calculation method (MTI-3).
The National Council has confirmed that the ‘calculation methods of the parameter relative to water losses make it impossible to obtain a meaningful result with respect to said parameter, when comparing the total losses recorded, including those occurring at connections, with a network scope that does not take connections into account’. The fact that the length of the connections is estimated with a high degree of uncertainty does not change the terms of the question, being a ‘mere practical impediment linked to the ability to measure the connections, which the Authority can remedy at its own discretion.’ Lastly, the National Council noted that Publiacqua was right in its claim that the M1a indicator ‘is unfair, making it unsuitable when comparing the performance of different systems, since it does not take into account certain fundamental aspects for this purpose, such as the quantity and length of connections’.
The National Council's decision focuses attention on the topic of indicators used to compare the performance of Italian water suppliers and to assess their improvement over time.
The findings of the judgement in relation to the unfairness of the M1a indicator are in line with:
- the EU Reference document ‘Good Practices on Leakage Management WFD CIS WG PoM’ published in 2015, a product of the collaboration between different Member States, which advises against the use of the M1a indicator as a tool to compare the performance of different water systems (link);
- DIRECTIVE (EU) 2020/2184 of the European Parliament and of the Council (16 December 2020) on the quality of water intended for human consumption, which states that Member States shall ensure that an assessment of water leakage levels within their territory and of the potential for improvements in water leakage reduction is performed using the infrastructural leakage index (ILI) rating method or another appropriate method. (link).