Staff from a total of 8 Caribbean water utilities participated in the Regional Training on Measures and Activities for NRW-Reduction in Saint Lucia taking place from September 24th to 27th, 2019. The training, which is part of the consultancy project “Institutional and Organisational Strengthening of WASCO Saint Lucia and Regional Water Utilities”, was conducted by two hydraulic modelling and network management experts of Hamburg Wasser and Consulaqua, Germany.
The training was the second of its kind within the consultancy project and provided further inputs to address the high levels of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) many regional utilities struggle with. The first training took place in July 2019, focussing on matters such as water balance calculation, establishment of district metering areas and water demand management. Following the objective to further strengthen the technical capacities of the utilities to effectively reduce their level of Non-Revenue-Water, the participants got inputs on improved network operation practices in a combination of theoretical and practical exercises. Among the topics discussed were e.g. assessment of water network assets, network maintenance practices, impacts of leakages and pressure management. The theoretical input was put into practice right away, e.g. through the application of an asset assessment sheet developed by the participants.
In-field application of assessment sheet aided by GIS-created maps of target area
The week showed that utilities throughout the region face very similar challenges when it comes to effective network management and reduction of Non-Revenue-Water. And while the various utilities are at different stages of tackling those challenges, ideas and approaches exist in all of them. In that regard, the training also served as a platform for the utilities to exchange about the challenges they face and how to overcome them. Non-Revenue-Water is a huge issue for all utilities, some of the utilities in the region still lose more than half of the water they supplied to the network. Reasons such as illegal consumption or leaking infrastructure are only the most obvious causes. But also issues such as inadequate metering methods can cause significant loss of revenue and provide room for improvement.
With this consultancy project, the CATS programme intends to assist utilities in becoming more climate resilient by improving network management processes, asset management and the application of software tools but also by increasing the awareness among staff that every action, whatsoever small, is important. Thus, if, through workshops like this, the amount of water lost by the utilities can be reduced slightly at first, an important step is already taken towards more climate-resilient water utilities in the Caribbean.
Special thanks go to the regional participants from Grenada, Belize, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands who made a special effort to participate in that week-long training and share their ideas and experiences. The training would not have had the regional spirit without assistance of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association (CAWASA), through which contact was made to the utilities in the region and without which the participation of regional staff would not have been possible. Finally, WASCO Saint Lucia itself, though main beneficiary of the consultancy project, was the main contributor to the organisation of the training and hence deserves gratitude of everyone involved. The CATS Programme is proud to facilitate such meaningful projects and thereby contribute to the improvement many Caribbean people’s lives.