The critical state of the capital's sewerage: why not procrastinate?.

Oleh Titamyr, President of the NGO "Ukrainian Organization for Consumer Protection"

If the authorities continue to ignore this problem, the capital may expect a collapse in the water supply sector tomorrow. And here's why:

- among the sewage transportation networks of Kyiv, sewage collectors built before 1917 are still in operation! At the same time, collectors built in the 50s and 80s from reinforced concrete structures and without a protective coating are in a state of emergency. At the same time, more than 90% of pumping equipment needs to be replaced;

- sewerage system is a branched complex, which consists of intra-neighborhood and street networks, main collectors, pumping stations and pressure pipelines, etc. The total length of Kyiv's sewerage system is 2,719 km. And even according to the reporting data of PJSC JSC "Kyivodokanal" for 2019, the share of networks that have exhausted their effective life is 62.66%. Of these, dilapidated and emergency - 828.4 km, or 30, 46%, ie - almost a third!;

The cornerstone of the negative factor is that the lion's share of Kyiv's sewerage networks is built of reinforced concrete, which is unstable to chemical and mechanical influences. It is not suitable for use in sewerage infrastructure at all. Because of the hydrogen sulfide, which is actively released from the effluent, causing the so-called. gas corrosion, concrete becomes brittle, steel fittings rust and sewer pipes collapse;

- Extremely negative impact on the sewerage system and excessively polluted effluents from enterprises, which due to "savings" refuse to install local treatment plants. At the same time, 9 tons of fat is accumulated annually from the capital's sewerage networks, which accumulates on the walls of sewer pipes, resulting from unauthorized emissions to the capital's sewers - from dairy companies, malls, supermarkets, catering establishments, most of which are not equipped with grease traps. At the same time, there is still no effective framework legislation and effective control by the State Environmental Inspectorate;

- due to the above factors, we have a high accident rate of sewerage networks in the capital - 290 accidents per 100 km per year. In total, 7,890 accidents and injuries were recorded last year. And so, the most part of repairs is a banal patching of "holes", instead of complex reconstruction of networks and collectors! So it turns out that the government throws money to the wind, doing "Sisyphean labor";

- According to industry experts, the estimated cost of comprehensive modernization and development of water supply and sewerage is about UAH 30 billion. At the same time, from UAH 800 million to UAH 2 billion are needed annually to support the sewerage system, at least in its current state. Given the fact that Kyiv's budget this year is UAH 57.9 billion, there is a critical shortage of money for the reconstruction of sewerage networks. Thus, in the capital budget in 2020 for the construction and modernization of all (!) networks - water, heating and sewerage - allocated 575, 6 million UAH. This is clearly not enough !;

- not the best financial situation and the capital's water supply operator - "Kyivvodokanal" The main source of funding that the utility receives for the implementation of investment programs for the modernization of the sewerage network are tariffs for household consumers. However, this money covers about 60-70% of the real cost of water supply and sewerage! Therefore, in the current year - "as much as" UAH 34 million has been allocated for emergency recovery works. This is a drop in the ocean, because for this money you can change only 3-4% of networks! In general, in all the years of operation of water utilities in independent Ukraine, the main thing was to pay for electricity, which "eats" up to 50-60% of the tariff. In Kyiv, Vodokanal actually works for oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, whose energy company makes extra profits by selling electricity to the utility at exorbitant prices. And then - at least the grass does not grow! All this threatens a large-scale man-made catastrophe in the capital!

Therefore, it is inadmissible to procrastinate with the complex reconstruction of the capital's sewerage networks. Already today, the government must act in the following directions.

First, the Verkhovna Rada must finally develop and adopt a law "On Sewerage in Ukraine", which would comprehensively regulate the rules and standards in this communal segment (for so many years, this area "lives" without a relevant law!). This will introduce the necessary algorithms in the field of water supply and sewerage, which will be guided by municipalities.

Secondly, the government, together with a group of international and domestic experts, on the basis of the relevant law, should create a National Industry Strategy and a program to finance the comprehensive reconstruction of sewerage networks and wastewater treatment facilities. An appropriate municipal program should be developed at the level of Kyiv and each Ukrainian city. At the same time, sources of funding should be diversified: on a parity basis - the city and state budgets, targeted loans from the World Bank and domestic banking institutions, funds from investment programs of water utilities, possibly - special excise taxes for companies producing environmentally hazardous water ranoff, etc.

Third, as unpopular as it may sound, however, within 2-3 years the tariffs for water supply and sewerage must be brought in line with the market level and the real cost of municipal water, taking into account the investment component for the modernization of sewerage and water supply networks. For comparison: consumers in Belgium and Norway pay for a cubic meter of water the equivalent of 175 UAH. In the same Poland, a cube of communal water together with drainage costs 10 times more than in Ukraine - 276 UAH.

And, fourthly, the authorities should consider another important option - the transfer of the capital's centralized water supply and sewerage facilities in concession to the relevant business. Similar models operate, in particular, in the USA, Canada, the Great Britain thanks to what expenses for service of sewer networks in these countries decreased by 17-40%! With a wide system of various incentives for private investors from the Kyiv authorities and adequate tariff formation, this form of public-private partnership can ensure full modernization of the water supply and sewerage structure, profitability of this business and filling the revenue side of the capital budget.

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