Equipment and expertise for reconstruction

Insights into the solidarity-based utility partnership between the Oldenburg-East Frisian Water Association (OOWV) and its Ukrainian partners in Chernihiv and Sumy at the YOUtility Lunch on 19 January 2023

After forging initial contacts in June 2022 at the leading Munich-based Trade Fair for Environmental Technologies, IFAT, and following an initial visit by a delegation of Ukrainian counterparts to Germany, the solidarity-based utility partnership is continuing to gain momentum. OOWV’s Tammo Janßen, alongside his partner colleagues from Chernihivvodokanal and Miskvodokanal in Sumy, presented the current status of cooperation and upcoming activities to 40+ participants. Partnership activities are initially set to run for two years.

Chernihiv, which is situated in the north of Ukraine not far from the Belarussian border, is the administrative heart of Chernihiv Oblast. Chernihiv is now famous as a ‘Hero City’, having successfully resisted Russian occupation and halted Russia’s advance during the war. The utility Chernihivvodokanal supplies drinking water and sanitation services to around 300,000 people in the city and its surrounding villages. Some 15 km of the 560 km-long network of drinking water pipelines have been destroyed by the war while other parts have sustained damage. Even harder hit are the pumping stations. Of the five stations, one has been wiped out and two others severely compromised. OOWV’s assistance presently consists in delivering pumps and in sharing the expertise needed to repair one of the pumping stations. This reconstruction work is intended to serve as a model for the repair and reconstruction of the other two pumping stations. Initial supplies of materials got underway in November 2022. To glean more ideas for reconstruction , the Ukrainian experts inspected OOWV’s drinking water plant in Nethen during their delegation trip to Germany.

Located in the northeast close to the Russian border, Sumy is the capital of Sumy Oblast. From day one of the war, Sumy has been at the mercy of air raids by Russia’s armed forces. Russian troops occupied the city’s suburbs and engaged in house-to-house combat in the centre of town. Sumy was without electricity for a while and at times could only maintain rudimentary drinking water supplies using road tankers. Parts of the wastewater network have been damaged or destroyed. Furthermore, a one-month curfew made it difficult to procure fuels, generators and repair materials. The persistent airstrikes mean that the supply of drinking water and the disposal of wastewater remain under threat. Nonetheless, regular operations have been resumed in the interim. OOWV is currently supporting the utility Miskvodokanal with a drain inspection system that allows damage to be identified and eliminated more quickly.

All three sides wish to intensify their cooperation this year with more professional exchanges and supplies of requisite materials. Referencing their cooperation, Tammo Janßen stated that, ‘Our professional and friendship-based relationship will be even stronger after the war.’ In response, his colleague from Chernihiv stated that, ‘Once we have secured our victory, we will invite you over immediately.’

In closing, Kristin Michalek-Götz from the water utility Stadtentwässerung Dresden and Volodymyr Bilynskyy from Lvivvodokanal in Lviv reported on how the war has further consolidated their utility partnership which dates back to 2021. Just two weeks into the war, Stadtentwässerung Dresden, together with the other project actors Stadtentwässerung Köln and the Berliner Wasserbetrieben, organised an aid convoy with urgently needed technical equipment, such as generators and chemicals for treating drinking water. This bolstered Lvivvodokanal’s capacity for maintaining service delivery, despite the impacts of the war. Technical support has also been psychologically very valuable, coming as it did right at the start of the war. ‘Your support has been palpable the entire time, which is why we know we're not alone,’ said a thankful Volodymyr Bilynskyy who coordinates the utility partnership on behalf of Lvivvodokanal.

Burkhard Vielhaber, Utility platform

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