"Water for peace"

The theme of this year's World Water Day could not be more relevant for the German-Ukrainian solidarity partnerships

Photo: United Nations

However, the latest Russian attacks on Ukraine in particular show that we are still a long way from peace in Europe. Russian bombs continue to destroy Ukraine's water infrastructure, disrupting water and sanitation services for the people of Ukraine. Catastrophes such as the destruction of the Kakhovka dam have brought additional suffering to the population.

The Utility Platform is currently promoting 16 Solidarity Utility Partnerships between German and Ukrainian water companies.

For the third year in a row, Stadtentwässerung Dresden is bringing technical equipment to its Ukrainian municipal partner companies as part of the existing Water Utility Partnership.

The first transport 2024 to Ternopil started earlier this month and delivered a used combi flush valve. The second shipment, consisting of cables and frequency converters, was loaded last Friday and arrived at its destination early Monday morning. Further relief supplies are ready for shipment and will be transported to Lviv and again to Ternopil in the coming weeks.

In addition,  55 German water utilities have donated over 4,770 goods to 67 Ukrainian water utilities via the German Association of Local Public Utilities (VKU) since January 2023. Gelsenwasser, for example, which also has a solidarity utility partnership with the utility in Kremenchuk, has already delivered 10 vehicles and other equipment such as suction pumps or wastewater pumps to the Ukrainian water association "Ukrvodokanalecologiya", which pools the requests for help from its members. The VKU continues to call on German water utilites to donate urgently needed equipment.

As part of the partnerships, the Ukrainian side is not only supported in the procurement of vehicles, pumps and generators. Ukrainian experts also regularly visit the German water utilities. This promotes an exchange of expertise between the partners in various fields.

This week, a delegation from Kyivvodokanal, the water and wastewater company of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, visited the Hamburg wastewater treatment plant and the central control centre for the water supply. Since 2022, HAMBURG WASSER has been supporting Kyivvodokanal in areas including the procurement of the necessary equipment to operate waterworks and drinking water networks in the best possible way in times of war.

"Clean water from the tap, at any time of day or night, is no longer a matter of course for the people of Kyiv since Russia's large-scale war of aggression. Water is our most important resource, and a functioning drinking water supply helps to maintain civilisation," says Ingo Hannemann, Managing Director of HAMBURG WASSER.

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine poses major challenges for water suppliers: In addition to attacks on critical infrastructure, missile strikes, for example, trigger massive pressure waves in the ground, which increasingly lead to burst pipes, jeopardising and often interrupting the drinking water supply. HAMBURG WASSER supports Kyivvodokanal in procuring water trucks to supply the population with drinking water even during supply interruptions.

Ukrainian drinking water and wastewater laboratory managers will also visit the Oldenburgisch-Ostfriesischer Wasserverband (OOWV) in north-western Germany next week. The OOWV has been in contact with municipal water supply and wastewater utilities from the cities of Chernihiv in the north and Sumy in the frontline northeast of Ukraine since May 2022.

The aim in the current phase is to purchase a gas and ion chromatograph for Sumy to ensure the quality of drinking water there, says Tammo Janßen, International Cooperation and Water Innovation Networks Officer at OOWV. OOWV has been organising regular digital and face-to-face meetings for almost two years. 

"The solidarity partnership is primarily focused on rebuilding parts of the destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine," says Axel Frerichs, Deputy Managing Director of OOWV. "The focus is not only on quickly improving the situation once the conflict hopefully ends soon. Even now, the focus is on maintaining or restoring the water supply for the people in the crisis regions, as well as on wastewater treatment."

Water does not yet bring peace in Ukraine, but maintaining this vital infrastructure is crucial to mitigating the consequences of the war for Ukrainians. Through the solidarity in the partnerships, they also feel that they are not alone and it strengthens their courage to continue fighting for peace in freedom.

Utility Pltform

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