MEG project: Better water supply in 18 cities and municipalities in BiH by reduction of Non-Revenue Water

Measuring water flow levels in Bihać

Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance (MEG) Project, provides technical assistance and necessary equipment to water utility companies in 18 cities and municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), aiming to enable better water supply to citizens by reduction of non-revenue water. The summer of 2017 was very difficult period for water utility companies in many municipalities and cities, not only in BiH, but also in the region. High temperatures, increased water consumption and absence of the significant rainfalls during summer time, created significant shortages of potable water and pushed many water utility companies to implement unpopular measures – regular water supply reductions. However, MEG Project supported water utility companies to efficiently address these challenges.

“MEG project’s technical assistance to its participating water utility companies helped them face this hot summer more prepared and organized, which resulted in successful managing of water shortages in more efficient and organized way,” said Mr. Goran Štefatić, MEG Project Manager.

Practical training on leakage detection in Kozarska Dubica

During the period of January – September 2017, MEG project provided extensive “on-site” practical trainings and education related to reduction of non-revenue water in all 18 partner local governments. Technical assistance included: mapping of existing water lines, definition and establishment of District Metering Areas, measurements of the water consumption and creation of the water balance in order to calculate water losses, and training in detection of the water leakages.

Because water shortages and potable water supply reductions directly affect citizens, institutions and local economy that depend on regular water supply, technical assistance was also focused on improvements in customer relationships. MEG Project drafted procedures and brief operational plan for consumer relations, and all these activities supported water utility companies’ efforts to better inform citizens in timely manner, and to be more responsive to the consumers complains.

Training on using water leakage detection equipment in Bosanska Krupa

In addition to technical assistance and on-site training activities, MEG project provided direct support to its partner water utility companies by procuring the most urgent equipment and software tools, essential for non-revenue water reduction activities. Total value of equipment provided to 18 water utility companies is approximately 500,000 BAM. Donation of equipment and software included supply of: valves and fittings, water meters for the measurements in District Metering Areas, equipment for detection of water leakages, equipment for detection of underground water pipes infrastructure, telemetry equipment, geodetic survey equipment and accounting information software. Part of equipment has already been delivered, and delivery of the remaining equipment will be finalized by the end of October 2017.

Mr. Sabahudin Sakić, technical director of water utility company in Kalesija, which received five water meters for the measurements in District Metering Areas, explained expected benefits from the equipment donated by MEG project: “For the first time this water utility company has the system for tracking water flow and losses in the water supply network. Until now, we had no built-in water meters, but we always strived for it. We expect that these water meters will enable us to monitor our water supply system, and to monitor the losses of the water in the system. For a long time, we have planned to launch activities to reduce losses in the water supply network, and the MEG project has facilitated and accelerated this process thanks to the water meters they donated to us.”

The other significant improvement that was achieved is related to improved financial management of water utility companies.  With the support of MEG project, 16 water utility companies started calculating and accounting their costs by “cost centers”. This will enable water utility companies’ managers to identify areas for potential financial savings and efficiency improvements in the entire water utility company’s operation.

One of Project partners, which was supported in financial management, is water utility company in Žepče, which received new software for finance and accounting.

“So far, all utility services have been calculated together, and now, with this software, they will be separated and we will know precisely how much the water costs, how much the sewage, heating, parking, ... everything will be separately managed, and in that sense, we will know exactly how our water utility companies do business. In addition, we also got water meters, which will enable us to determine where our defects are and where our biggest losses are due to the theft of water. This will be followed by the process of discovering and repairing these defects, and only then we will get the final results on reducing non-revenue water. It is necessary to encompass the whole system to do this, and the tangible results can only be expected in the next year,” said Mr. Mirko Šumić, director of water utility company in Žepče.

Water pressure reading in Cazin

For 18 MEG project’s partner local governments, the average percentage of non-revenue water as percent of abstracted water is 51%. This is the equivalent to losses of 145 liters of potable water per person per day. MEG project expects that the efforts from water utility companies will reduce the non-revenue water figure by 10% by the end of March 2018. This will be equivalent to saving as much as 15 liters of water per person per day.

 “We will definitely not stop here but rather continue to work extensively with our partner water utility companies on decreasing non-revenue water levels. The reduction of non-revenue water will enable water utility companies to face coming years more confident, and to be able to provide public water services in a more effective and efficient way,“ concluded Mr. Štefatić.

In the forthcoming year, MEG project will work on infrastructure projects and economic development projects, and  within project activities, special attention will be dedicated to the most vulnerable categories of population in BiH.

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.

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