Ukraine: Making Ukrainian Cities More Livable
Urban Infrastructure Project covers the upgrade of water utilities in 14 cities of Ukraine
July 5, 2013
Kolomyia is an old city of 70,000 people in the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Aside from the benefits of age, like history and grand buildings, the city was also saddled with outdated water pipes and a decaying sewage system. And Kolomyia is not alone. Modernizing old infrastructure is a top priority for all urban governments in Ukraine. Recently, Kolomyia celebrated the opening of a new water pumping station, built under the auspices of the Urban Infrastructure Project, which is supported by the World Bank.
Construction crews have also put down eight kilometers of new water pipes and a new sewage disinfection system. And the water utility has switched over to automatic electronic control, which means an operator monitors all data on a computer screen, and can react fast in case of an emergency.
The city has eliminated all high lift pump stations, those that raised network pressure. Today we have a pressure of two atmospheres in all pipes of Kolomyia. So the network cannot be torn apart by high-pressured water.
Clean Water without Chlorine
But Mayor Slyuzar says he's most proud of what's not in the water. Kolomyia is the first city in western Ukraine where water is treated without chlorine. "We have radically changed water quality. No one in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast has a system like we have," Mayor Slyuzar says. "Talking in terms of pH measurement, we raised the pH level from three percent to seven. This means that the water is ingested by the human body without causing problems to health."
The new equipment in Kolomyia has also meant fewer breakdowns in the water supply system. The water utility company, which is owned by the city council, estimates annual savings of about one million-kilowatt hours of electricity. And the money saved could be spent on much-needed programs such as education, medical services for retirees and road improvements.
More Reliable, Better for the Environment
Among Ukraine's public utilities, energy efficiency is becoming more of a priority. The city of Boryspil is near Ukraine's capital Kiev and has a population of about 55,000 people. Officials there say that people who simply turn on their water taps might not know or care about their energy efficient new water system, but they will savor their clean drinking water. "Maybe residents will not notice what pumps we have or where we replaced the network. But when they turn on the faucet and quality water runs, then I think the people will be satisfied with the quality of water and above all that it is supplied round the clock," says Lyudmyla Kovalyova, the deputy mayor of Boryspil.
I think the people will be satisfied with the quality of water and above all that it is supplied round the clock.
Public Outreach for Public Water
Before asking for loans to replace rusty pipes and pumps, the city council organized public hearings for local input. City council members wanted to make sure they had support from residents, because better water comes at a higher price. They had the support. Boryspil's residents agreed to pay more, and the new system is working well, according to deputy mayor Kovalyova.
"Today we see that the water tariffs are not growing significantly, because the price for services has been mitigated by benefits from the project. Our communal utility reduced energy and water losses and people have seen that the quality of services is improving," she says.
Olexandr Hanush, the director of water utility Boryspilvodokanal, agrees. "We have raised the water tariff by 10 to 12 percent from the existing price. This increase is too small compared to the surge of electricity prices nowadays," he explains.
Funded by the World Bank, the Urban Infrastructure Project covers the upgrade of water utilities in 14 cities of Ukraine. It reaches 4 million Ukrainians, who now have better access to clean, safe, reliable water.