MEG project supports systematic improvements of water supply services in BiH

Sep 4, 2017

Systematic regulation of rights, obligations and responsibilities in the area of water supply, wastewater disposal and treatment services represents a major challenge faced by almost all municipalities and cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Because of that, the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance (MEG) project, within its component geared towards ensuring sustainability, quality and availability of services in the environment sector, and specifically those related to water management, started an initiative to systematically solve problems in the area of public water services, by signing Public Service Agreements (PSA) between local authorities, as founders, and public water utility companies. As of now, 11 MEG project partner local governments in BiH have signed PSAs with water utility companies for the provision of public water supply services: Bihać, Bosanska Krupa, Cazin, Gradiška, Kalesija, Kostajnica, Kozarska Dubica, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Teslić and Žepče. The PSAs will strengthen responsibilities of both the local governments and water utility companies in provision of water supply and wastewater disposal services. Also, the PSAs will help solving issues related to more efficient management of public property and securing funds for investment maintenance of water supply plants and infrastructure.

“Signing of the PSAs is the result of many months of committed work within the MEG project, and demonstrates the readiness of local authorities and water utility companies to work together to improve all aspects of water supply services for the benefit of the citizens,” said Goran Štefatić, MEG project manager.

The systematic regulation of the provision of public water services will enable the long-term improvement of water supply services, sustainable supply of quality drinking water to citizens and ensure the protection of water consumers in municipalities and cities. Regular maintenance of the water supply system and expansion of the existing water supply network, along with cost reductions and improved water supply, will ensure better quality drinking water for citizens, with optimum water service costs.

Luka Jotanović, director of utility company “Rad” Teslić, stressed the importance of signing the agreement to establish a system of quality and sustainable water supply services provision as a utility service of special public interest, especially from the point of regulating issues which are important for expansion of the water supply network in Teslić municipality: „The PSA supports us in defining procedures related to utility services pricing and water tariffs, subsidies for socially vulnerable categories of population and the quality control of service provision.“

MEG Project provides significant support to water utility companies of its partner local governments, directed, amongst other, to strengthening water supply services for the citizens. Within the framework of MEG Project, the water utility companies will acquire equipment for measurement and reduction of water losses in the system and detection of malfunctions, software for more efficient operational management, ensure monitoring of drinking water springs, work on improving water supply zones and repair of the old water supply networks. One of the goals of the MEG project is to assist local governments to systematically secure funds in their budgets for subsidies to socially vulnerable families who are unable to afford water supply services at the standard tariff, and to subsidize costs of three cubic meters of water consumption per household member, which is in line with World Health Organization recommendations.

“PSA is important to us because it will contribute to better organization of the water utility companies; we will start with better planning in this area, develop methodology, align number of employees with the standards, and reduce the non-revenue water by 50 per cent,” said Šuhret Fazlić, mayor of Bihać, and emphasized that funds for monthly subsidies of water supply services costs will be secured for socially vulnerable citizens in the budget for 2018.

Signing of Public Service Agreements is planned in the upcoming period in remaining MEG project partner cities and municipalities: Doboj, Gračanica, Gradačac, Prnjavor, Tešanj, Tuzla and Velika Kladuša. As the procedures required to sign the agreements are already underway, it is expected that all 18 partner local governments participating in the MEG project will by the end of the year systematically regulate water supply services issues, which should lead toward provision of quality drinking water supply to citizens at optimized water tariffs.

MEG project, which is financed and supported by Government of Switzerland and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in BiH, supports local governments in improving quality and availability of public services and communal infrastructure in 18 local governments, and improves livelihood for at least 700.000 citizens. Within project activities, special attention is dedicated to the most vulnerable categories of population in BiH.