Introduction In the last ten years or so the organisation of the Paris water supply, a legacy of the nineteenth century, has once again moved to centre stage. This fact is notably a result of two initiatives taken by the majority local government that took offi ce following the 2001 municipal elections, headed by the socialist Bertrand Delanoë. First, the municipal government decided to take back municipal control of the water service, which in 1984 had been contracted out by the previous team under Jacques Chirac1 to two private companies (one for the left bank, the other for the right bank). Second, it wanted to reverse the policy implicitly pursued by its predecessors, which had led to the progressive decline of the municipality’s “second water network” – in fact, historically the fi rst – which supplies nonpotable water to the whole municipal area.