Bulgaria Water situation to get desperate within three years

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Water situation to get desperate within three years By Velina Nacheva

According to a top official, in the next two to three years, about 60 per cent of the populated areas in Bulgaria will be under water restriction regimes or completely deprived of water unless urgent measures are taken.

Gancho Hitrov, chairman of the National Committee for Improvement of Water Supplies in Bulgaria, said on Friday that approximately 1,280 regions could soon be in a desperate situation.

The most threatened areas are the Blagoevgrad, Vratsa, Montana, Stara Zagora and Eastern Rhodopes regions. “In order to prevent this worrying water situation, we need an investment of $5.4 billion,” said Hitrov. According to the members of the committee, the money could be secured through credits made by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, for municipality-owned companies.

Another option, according to Georgi Damianov, chairman of Employers Working in Water Supplies and Canalization, would be to create a new company in which the shareholders would be the water subscribers themselves.

Approximately 72 per cent of the investment is needed for water supply equipment and pipes. Currently, 68 per cent of water is lost in the water supplying network,” said Hitrov. About 35 per cent of this is attributable to thefts of water and non-paid bills, while the rest is due to leaks and other incidents along the network.

The committee is considering the option of implementing a complex program for the development and improvement of the water industry, which would take 35 years. “The better part of the water pipe network no longer operates effectively,” said Hitrov.

Former Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Evgeni Chachev insisted on changing the Concession Law to use it for the government’s own purposes, said Hitrov on Friday. Chachev has also been accused of the hidden privatization of Water Supplies and Canalization in Bourgas.

“After the summer high season, the water from Bourgas supplying Varna will be stopped,” said Dimitar Panteleev, director of Water Supplies-Bourgas. This will be done to prevent water shortages in Bourgas in the future. The natural water reservoir Kamchia (Bourgas region) is presently operating at 20 per cent of its full capacity, and 40 per cent of this is going to Varna.

The citizens of the village of Bliznatsi (near Varna) currently have a very small water supply. The mayor of the village, Todor Kirov, said that the people are ready to take drastic measures due to the lack of water which they have lived with for years.

Over a million water gauges need replacing to reduce water losses according to the program for rehabilitation prepared by the National Committee for Improve-ments of the Water Network.

The water network currently has major problems in the regions of Shumen, Haskovo, and Dobrudja area. Approximately one million households need to change their gauges and the methods for calculating the water usage, said engineer Hristo Banchev, executive director of Belasitsa Ltd., Bulgaria’s largest gauges’ manufacturer. He complained that various German, Czech and Polish products had taken over the Bulgarian water supplies market, and forced a decrease in domestic production. The Committee is appealing for a change in the Waters’ Law in order to stimulate Bulgarian water production.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), August 10, 2001

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