Bulgarian Town Declares Emergency over Water Rationing

Environment | October 17, 2012, Wednesday // 16:05|  views

Hospitals and kindergartens in the town of Sevlievo may be shut down temporarily over lack of water reserves. File photo

The mayor of a north-central Bulgarian town has declared state of emergency after months of drought, leaks and failures in old pipes brought back tight water rationing.

"The people living in Sevlievo were forced once again to swallow the bitter pill of water rationing after the summer ends. The region traditionally has huge problems with water resources in late September and early October, this year it was no different," mayor Ivan Ivanov told the national radio on Wednesday.

He warned that hospitals and kindergartens may be shut down temporarily over lack of water reserves.

Drought, lagging dam construction, leaks and failures in old pipes brought about water rationing for one third of Bulgaria's population this summer, but more cuts are due in the autumn, forecasts say.

The worst-hit municipalities this summer, which will go down in history as one of the hottest ever, were Veliko Tarnovo, Vratsa, Dobrich, Lovech, Montana, Plovdiv, Razgrad, Sofia region, Pernik, Targovishte, Gabrovo and Kyustendil.

The citizens living in some districts of Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv and Pleven also were left without regular water supplies because of pipes failures or planned repair works.

According to experts lack of resources and habits to save water are the two main reasons for the current situation. But it is a fact that twenty years after the collapse of the communist regime Bulgaria's water sector remains one of the least reformed systems in the country.

The cash-strapped country can not afford to upgrade and maintain all units in the system – from the dam to the end users – and they have been left to the mercy of time and vandalism.

Obsolete water and sewage networks made of asbestos cement are another problem as they cause huge leaks and hurt the quality of the water.

An average 60 percent of water pumped in the pipes never reaches consumers, while in some regions losses account for up to 90 percent, experts say.

Except for Sofia municipal water supply, which has been granted on concession to a foreign investor, all other units in the sector are either owned by the state or the municipalities.

The company in Sofia however has been harshly criticized for shortage of investments in the upgrade and maintenance of the system.

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Tags: Bulgaria, Sevlievo, water


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