In 1994, the Italian Parliament passed a reform which aimed to radically change the economic regulatory institutions of the water sector in the country. The implementation of the reform, which lasted about twelve years, resulted in a new regulatory regime which combined selected features of public ownership, franchise allocation, and discretionary regulation. The reform was implemented in different ways across the country, resulting in different forms of organisation and management of water services at the local level. Drawing from this case, this paper aims to discuss two issues, namely why water regulatory reforms are designed as ‘hybrids’ between different regulatory ‘models’, and why, within a given regulatory institutional framework, water regulatory reforms may be implemented in different ways at the local level. This paper, therefore, aims to contribute to a broader scholarly discussion regarding the rationales for institutional variety of water infrastructure regulation at the national and sub-national levels, and regarding the practical implications for managing the implementation of water regulatory reforms.

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