On average, water costs Italians 16 per cent more than it did in 2000 according to a new report from Italian consumer group Cittadinanzattiva. The report is critical of the chaos of mixed and variable charges that, in terms of pricing, makes water one of the least transparent utilities in Italy. For instance, variable charges may be based on annual (71 per cent of cases), monthly (13 per cent), daily (7 per cent), quarterly (6 per cent), four-monthly (2 per cent) or six-monthly consumption. Launched in March 2004, the survey analyses the cost for an average family of three that consumes 192 cubic metres of water each year. The report uncovered considerable discrepancies in the cost from one province or city to the next. Perhaps surprisingly, the cheapest rates were recorded in Cuneo (110) and Milan (115) in the wealthy northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. The most expensive areas include the five main cities of the Apulia region in the south, where families pay 331 on average, followed by Arezzo (315) and Livorno (309) both in Tuscany.