Road of water in Chisinau municipality

The enterprise “Apă-Canal Chișinău” manages about 4,000 kilometers of water pipes and over 3,000 kilometers of sewerage networks. The wear and tear of water supply networks is at a high level. The average wear of pipelines exceeds 75%, while that of steel networks rises to 90%. In the course of 2023, around 10,000 leakages in networks were recorded, but the figure decreased compared with 2019 due to the use of modern repair parts. “Since 2014, when the loan agreements with EBRD and EIB were signed, we have managed to build about 120 kilometers of water pipes and seven kilometers of sewerage networks,” said Irina Gutnic, deputy mayor of Chisinau. But modernizing networks is not enough and the responsible attitude of citizens is also required. When the residents of Chisinau use the networks as garbage bins, not only incidents or blockages appear. The public sewerage system is damaged and enormous costs for remediation are subsequently required.

Rehabilitation of infrastructure

Diana Tacu, interim general director of “Apă-Canal Chișinău”, said the process of modernizing and developing the networks should be a priority. If is not possible to change an entire chain of networks, the sections with most of leakages during the year should be replaced annually. Leakages are monitored nonstop, including through the Dispatcher’s Department to which any resident of Chisinau can report incidents. “"We have employees who work in shifts and who monitor this process, including through the SCADA system, which allows us to monitor the entire water transport chain. Respectively, through the SCADA system we can identify all control points and see where there are leaks,” said Diana Tacu, noting that in each sector there is a person responsible for water networks, who is also involved in the leak detection process.

The Chisinau wastewater treatment plant, which is currently at the first phase of rehabilitation, also needs to be modernized. The phase is 90-95% completed, despite the termination of the contract with the contractor that was supposed to carry out the works. The municipality aims to have the first phase completed by the end of 2026. At the second phase of the project, the most effective sludge processing technology is to be identified and adjusted to current conditions. “On behalf of Chisinau municipality, the operator was entrusted with the task of modernizing the technological wastewater treatment process, even if we are not talking about a finished treatment plant. We endeavored with our own forces, where the contractor didn’t fulfill its obligations, to put into operation different machines, pumps, the aeration basin. Now we are working on the primary clarifiers that are to be put into operation by the operator, but there are works that are outside the operator’s competence and we are going to contract new economic agents,” explained Diana Tacu, stressing that the tender contests will be held in strict compliance with the policies and rules of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Consumer's behavior

In order to provide, in parallel with “Apă-Canal Chișinău” the service of collecting and transporting wastewater to the points set up by the operator, the enterprise issued 17 permits for economic agents. “Apă-Canal Chișinău” carries out unannounced inspections during the week and at least 10 cases of illegal emptying have been identified lately. The reports are sent to the responsible district head’s offices to ascertain the contraventions and subsequently fine the persons who illegally practice emptying. In the case of legal entities, the information is sent to the Environmental Protection Inspectorate for these to be fined, including to the National Road Transport Agency, which can even take away the license plates.

The consumers can also use the public sewerage networks inappropriately. The sewage system is used as a garbage container for building materials, household waste. Last February, there were recorded around 950 accidents, half of which in sewerage networks. In most of the cases, it was determined that blockages were caused by food waste or various household materials, textiles, disposable items, even remnants of building materials. The deputy mayor of Chisinau Irina Gutnic said that such situations can be prevented only through the responsibility of each consumer. Household consumers must use biodegradable products. Before discharging greasy food products into the sewer, these should be treated with special reagents.

The operator’s teams daily monitor the maximum permissible parameters in the waters discharged into the sewers. Irina Gutnic said that an improvement in the attitude of economic agents towards this process has been witnessed the past years, but there is still much work to be done. Out of 200 economic agents that discharge water on the territory of Chisinau municipality, 20% built water pre-treatment systems before discharging the water into sewers. Under the normative documents, everyone must have such pre-treatment systems.

Metering and billing of water volumes

The meters installed today at consumers do not allow manipulations. In 2020, a pilot project was launched to install smart meters with a remote reading system at Housing Sector Managing Enterprise No.7 with the aim of reducing the costs incurred for transferring meter readings and of correctly billing the consumed volume of water. Deputy mayor Irina Gutnic said the project covered 2,300 apartments. Smart water meters were installed at 50% of these and the difference between the volume of water that enters the block and the volume of water distributed to apartments was reduced by 70%. The City Hall aims to install smart meters all over Chisinau municipality, but infrastructure is needed to implement this technology.

“Apă-Canal Chișinău” manages the well-room in Botanica district, which has an annual consumption of over 2,300 cubic meters of water. The costs of maintaining the well-room in 2023 amounted to 300,000 lei. The well-room is in great demand especially in summer, as are the drinking water fountains installed in the Public Garden “Stephan the Great”, in “Valea Morilor” Park, in “Alunelul” Park. The deputy mayor said there are cases when citizens damage the control valves or mechanisms at fountains. There are also residents who use the fountains as a trash can or instead of an ashtray. This is regrettable and the citizens should show responsibility and civic spirit so that every resident can enjoy the service provided by the municipality.

Providing a water supply and sanitation service at the highest standards is the main and continuous objective in the field. Also, it is planned to extend the water supply and sewerage service so as to cover other localities in addition to Chisinau and its suburbs. “Now we are in talks to become water transporters within the Chisinau-Calarasi-Straseni project, to deliver water to these localities,” said the deputy mayor. The treatment of sludge to obtain from it biogas that could be used in the work of “Apă-Canal Chișinău” is another objective.

Milena Macarciuc, IPN

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