We analyze the performance of two water utilities located at the USA–Mexico border with a focus on public accountability. We evaluate selected performance indicators and explain how public accountability mechanisms can be associated with those outcomes. We find strong hierarchical accountability relationships between policymakers and water services providers but weak feedback mechanisms from customers to policymakers; moreover, structural barriers to political accountability resulting in weak accountability mechanisms may explain different facets of the relatively poor performance of both water utilities. Our findings suggest the need for these water utilities to build a closer relationship with their customers and to implement customer service indicators to track their performance.

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