Post-Socialist Political Economy of Drinking Water Supply Network and Its Consequences on Socio-Spatial Inequalities in Access to Water in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, despite the fact that 99% of the population is officially connected to the drinking water network, regular cuts lasting for months on end are indicative of major structural problems in the water supply and treatment sector. The country’s hydraulic heritage, largely inherited from socialism, is deteriorating and must be renovated. This presentation analyzes the reforms which, since the 1990s and Bulgaria’s entry into the EU in 2007, have pushed water management in a more liberal direction. It critically questions the choice of the Bulgarian state to withdraw from a sector which is still mostly public, with the exception of the Sofia concession. In this country where the average population has very low purchasing power and where some regions are increasingly depopulating, I scrutinize the impact of these reforms on social and territorial inequalities in the access to drinking water.