Benchmarking in the wastewater sector - taking stock

In order to analyse the success of benchmarking undertaken by utilities in the German water sector, an investigation was carried out in the wastewater sector and how benchmarking affected the efficiency of the processes that the utilities carry out. An expanded reprint of a two part paper describe the findings of a survey that aimed at highlighting the aims, effects and success factors of benchmarking.

Content Table


Since 1996, water utilities from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been using benchmarking voluntarily as an instrument for performance improvement. In that time, over 800 utilities have carried out projects with aquabench GmbH alone, of which numerous ones are repeated regularly, and in the process they have collected experiences at different levels.

Nevertheless, doubts are repeatedly expressed about the uses of benchmarking, and more recently an increased number of voices have demanded loudly a stronger regulation of the German water sector. Behind this demand are suspected inefficiencies in water supply and wastewater disposal and the wish for comparability and transparency of services carried out.This gives rise to the need for a clarification of the aims (why benchmarking?), the effects related to these aims (how and where does it work?), and the success factors of benchmarking. 

These questions formed the basis of an investigation of nine German and one Swiss wastewater operators company looking at wastewater benchmarking projects. The results are summarized in

The study documents the successes of the 15 years of benchmarking practice by means of concrete examples. The optimised performance characteristics and actually achieved savings are itemised with the help of selected key performance indicators. In addition, factors of success of the benchmarking according to the set of rules and standards are confirmed and the further development of the methodical tool is illustrated.


Möller K., Bertzbach F. Nothhaft S., Waidelich P., and Schulz A. (2012). "Benchmarking in der Abwasserbeseitigung – eine Bestandsaufnahme" (Benchmarking in the wastewater sector – taking stock), Enhanced reprint from KA-Korrespondenz Abwasser, Abfall 2012 (59).

Bertzbach F., Franz T., and Möller K. (2012). "How to achieve and prove performance im-provement - 15 years of experience in German wastewater benchmarking", Water Science & Technology 65(4), 661-668

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