Bulgarian President Alarmed over Future Water Shortage

Business | October 29, 2012, Monday // 19:40|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has urged the consolidation of the country's water utilities. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has spoken strongly in favor of the consolidation of Bulgaria's water supply companies as a means of tackling a potentially disastrous water shortage in the future.

Speaking in Varna Monday, Plevneliev said he was going to veto the new Water Supply Act unless all municipalities agreed to the consolidation of the water utilities around the country.

A number of representatives of the Bulgarian local authorities have already spoken against the proposed measure fearing a hike in the water prices.

"There is no direct evidence that the price of water will go up if we consolidate the water utilities. However, there is definite evidence that we will remain without water if we fail to do that," Plevneliev argued, as cited by Darik Radio.

"We should be aware that this is a huge battle, and a huge topic. The EU is ready to fund the water sector in Bulgaria with EUR 2.4 B from the future operational program but that is not going to happen without reforms. Besides, we are wasting enormous amounts of water in our supply network – over 60-65%. This is also a problem that we must tackle," he added.

In his words, until Bulgaria has "viable" water utilities – that are large enough and have a sufficient number of customers – it will be unable to take advantage of EU funding or private investments as part of public private partnerships.

"My battle is very simple – it is for creating prerequisites for investments by the state as well as by the EU programs and the public-private partnerships. In order to do that, I am following this reform closely, and I hope that his consolidation will take place," he added.

Plevneliev supports the government's idea is to consolidate the existing 65 water utilities in Bulgaria into 28 firms that roughly correspond to Bulgaria's 28 administrative districts; each of those is going to have one water operator with the same water prices for all municipalities in the respect district.

"I suspect that the good idea of the authors of the legislation – the Environment Ministry and the Regional Development Ministry – to consolidate the water utilities might be rejected by the Parliament. If this happens, I am not ruling out imposing a veto," he said a few days ago.

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Tags: water utilities, water supply, water shortage, Water Supply Act, local authorities, municipalities, Rosen Plevneliev, Bulgarian President


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