LAHORE: The Lahore Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) and the Mardan Water and Sanitation Company (MWSC) have been selected for implementing the Water Operators’ Partnership (WOP) — a scheme meant to enhance and maintain groundwater reservoirs by stopping its wastage. Hungary’s Budapest Waterworks (BWW) will be the lead partner in the project being launched in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and the UN-Habitat, Dawn has learnt.

“The EU sought applications from 140 countries for the WOP project and of them, 22 countries’ proposals were accepted. And the BWW, Wasa, and the MWSC are on the top of this list,” Wasa Managing Director Syed Zahid Aziz said.

The BWW is an industry leader in developing customised strategy for physical and commercial loss reduction. The company’s own NRW (non-revenue water) levels have been brought down to 14% by constant monitoring and putting effective control measures in place. As a lead partner, the BWW would recommend the best equipment to analyze the NRW situation in the Wasa and MWSC and provide an effective plan to reduce loss. BWW has also developed an NRW competence center to train more experts in this discipline.

“The BWW has a clear vision for the future and a good understanding of the strategic initiatives that would be required to achieve this vision. In addition, the infrastructural goals that have been set by Wasa Lahore are similar to what the BWW has already achieved. Further, the primary source of water that is utilized in Lahore is groundwater and the BWW specializes in well management and efficiency”, reads BWW’s project proposal, approved by the EU.

The proposal mentions that the BWW and Wasa have a brief but supportive history of cooperation to build a programme on knowledge transfer. In addition, Wasa has also recommended the inclusion of the MWSC in the WOP programme. The needs of both utilities for organizational efficiency center on the same focus areas, albeit at different stages of development.

Lahore Wasa, the second-largest water utility of Pakistan and a regulated monopoly for water supply & sewerage services in the city, operates over more than 350 sq km and depends entirely on groundwater whereby approximately 2,450,000 m3/day is extracted through 596 tubewells installed in the city and then pumped into the distribution system.

Some of the key issues Wasa identified include the lack of training of staff, low water tariff and high operational expenditures, complete dependence on groundwater, an old and insufficient network of water supply and sewerage in the old city, urban flooding during monsoon rainfalls, and absence of wastewater treatment plants.

Under the project, the focus areas would include invoicing and revenue collection, customer services, network management in terms of IT infrastructure NRW reduction, integration of the existing billing systems with customer service management for efficient workflow, capacity building around lobbying for a better tariff, strategy for the efficient rollout of customer meter installations for more accurate billing, review of the current complaint management system and protocols, a training program for customer service agents, strategy for multi-channel and one-stop solution customer service.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021

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