Stadtentwässerung Dresden – Lvivvodokanal - Ternopilvodokanal - Nadvirnavodokanal

Know-how transfer between West and East

German-Ukrainian utility partnership values dialogue between experts.

How can Ukrainian water utilities optimise their services? And how can their German partners support them in this? The German-Ukrainian utility partnership is using the answers to these questions as a basis for drawing up an ambitious work plan. This will cover not only technical water supply and sanitation issues, but also commercial issues concerning cost-covering charges and investment procedures.


The project participants

International partner


Lvivvodokanal is owned by the City of Lviv in western Ukraine, and is the largest water supply and sanitation utility in the region. Its catchment area is home to around 730,000 people and 10,000 companies. Lvivvodokanal operates a water supply network of around 2,500 kilometres in length. The city’s drainage system comprises a 765 km-long sewerage network, 15 wastewater pump stations and two sewage treatment plants.


Nadvirnavodokanal is the public utility responsible for water supply and sanitation in the City of Nadvirna and the surrounding villages. Its catchment area includes around 21,000 people and four industrial enterprises. The utility employs a staff of 12. Its tasks include managing a 30 km-long sewerage network, five pumping stations and the central sewage treatment plant, which belongs to the local oil refining company. Nadvirnavodokanal is planning to build a new sewage treatment plant (required investment about UAH 234 million), modernise the water supply system and optimise sludge treatment. The utility has prepared the planning documents for the construction of the sewage treatment plant, and intends to train and prepare its employees for their future tasks.


This utility supplies water to the population of the City of Ternopil and four neighbouring villages, and is responsible for wastewater disposal. Its catchment area is home to around 240,000 inhabitants and 4,000 businesses and organisations. The utility employs a staff of around 500. It operates a water supply network of about 400 km and a sewerage network of 300 km, two water outlets, eight sewage pumping stations and the central sewage treatment plant. It is planning the construction of a new sewage treatment plant, as well as modernisation of the networks and the infrastructure. To this end, it is actively working with water associations and international finance institutions, e.g. World Bank, which are supporting the utility.


Ukrvodokanalekologiya is the largest water operator association in Ukraine. It supports knowledge transfer from leading German operators to Ukrainian operators. It also supports Ukrainian water utilities in implementing operational and organisational changes that will make the water sector in Ukraine more sustainable and effective. Ukrvodokanalekologiya is ready to support the project and scale up the project results by making them available to other Ukrainian municipal utilities.  Ultimately, improvements will be achieved for the entire Ukrainian water sector.

Lead partner

Stadtentwässerung Dresden

Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH provides wastewater collection, drainage and treatment services as well as conducting environmental analyses and planning and constructing wastewater infrastructure. The company serves around 670,000 customers in eastern Saxony. With some 400 employees, annual turnover of EUR 85 million and an annual investment budget of around EUR 30 million, it is one of the largest utilities in the sector.

Participating partner

Berliner Wasserbetriebe

Berliner Wasserbetriebe is responsible for water supply and wastewater management services in Berlin and parts of Brandenburg. It sold 220 million cubic metres of water in 2019. The drainage network comprises almost 10,000 kilometres of sewers. Berliner Wasserbetriebe is wholly owned by the Federal State of Berlin (Land Berlin).

Participating partner

Stadtentwässerungsbetriebe Köln

The main tasks of Stadtentwässerungsbetriebe Köln are wastewater disposal, flood protection and flood-risk management, river management and the maintenance of lakes and ponds in the city’s parks.


The project

When the utility partnership began, the focus was on one partner in western Ukraine – Lvivvodokanal – and the joint work was designed accordingly. The COVID-19 pandemic caused restrictions in many respects, and hampered the progress of the project.

The project has been ongoing for a year, and we have gained substantial insights into the condition and working practices of one water utility in Ukraine. Based on this and the joint discussions with all project participants, it is clear that the challenges facing Ukrainian water and sanitation utilities are basically similar. To identify solutions, the partners need to jointly discuss various areas of work. These include:

  • Cost-covering charges

    The income which utilities generate from water and sanitation charges is barely sufficient to cover their costs for operating the pipe system, the sewage treatment plants and various other facilities. The partners therefore plan to produce guidelines on how best to calculate realistic charges. Based on these guidelines, they intend to initiate a dialogue with the policy-makers who set the charges.
  • Recruitment and staff training

    Like German water municipalities, water utilities in Ukraine also face difficulties in meeting their demand for skilled workers. Their employees are on average between 55 and 65 years old, wages are usually low, and the job profiles are not very attractive for well qualified young people. They are therefore sharing ideas on how they can incentivise employees to stay on, and how they can present themselves to applicants as attractive employers.
  • Optimising infrastructure and processes

    The personnel costs for maintenance of the sewerage network are very high. There is major potential for savings here. The utilities are planning technical training courses on topics such as water loss reduction, compliance with quality standards and sewage sludge processing. The participants will be trained to scale up and disseminate their newly acquired knowledge. Sustainable investments and a modern infrastructure management system could save a great deal of energy in the future.

Expanding the operator partnership

The expansion of the existing utility partnership with Lvivvodokanal to include the Ternopil and Nadvirna water utilities is fundamentally in line with the principle of neighbourly assistance, and will support a sustainable water management strategy for small and medium-sized municipal operators in western Ukraine. Synergies in the sharing of knowledge and lessons learned, for example through advisory services, workshops and training, are a core component of the utility partnership and are largely determined by Ukrainian needs.

Establishing an effective network between the utilities on the Ukrainian side (including the Ukrovodokanalekologyja association, which is the interface to the policy-making bodies), will enable sustainable solutions to be implemented and monitored. To achieve these objectives, synergy effects must be leveraged.

This forward-looking construct is seen as the cornerstone of a potential network of regional water utilities in (western) Ukraine, which would aim to significantly improve water supply and sanitation management. Initially, the partners in Ukraine will function as multipliers for other actors in the water supply and sanitation sector in the country. In the long run, they should be enabled to continue this work beyond the scope of this project.

A forced strategic reorientation

Since February 2022, the utility partnership with Ukraine has faced the stressful situation of the Russian escalation of the war of aggression. Unfortunately, project work as originally planned is no longer possible. Regular dialogue between the partners takes place primarily online, and at non-fixed intervals. The partnership is heavily dependent on the limited scope of action of our Ukrainian colleagues. Depending on the availability of electricity, and mindful of air raid alerts and the ad-hoc deployment of our Ukrainian colleagues to maintain water supply and sanitation, the two sides are trying out creative solutions to conduct a condensed professional discourse on the key topics agreed in the partnership. It is essential to adjust and reduce the core topics, and focus on the procurement of urgently needed technical equipment. This will be realigned flexibly with the prevailing war conditions.

Travelling from Ukraine to Germany is made more difficult with a considerable amount of bureaucratic application, which is not always promising, but may have to be cancelled shortly before it starts. It is becoming increasingly difficult for male staff members to leave the country and there is little prospect of success.

In consultation with the Ukrainian partner companies, a lively and constant exchange about the content of the cooperation and implementation possibilities led to the new focus of the utility partnership on the important role of women in water management. Accordingly, the partnership follows the approach of "strengthening women in water management" and focuses in its working meetings on the professional competences of the female employees, which are primarily located in the commercial and laboratory-technical areas.


In this special situation, the provision of technical equipment and support through pragmatic expert dialogue are helping to find solutions quickly. Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is necessary to strengthen the existing partnership by providing technical aid. At present, procurement must be given higher priority so that utilities can guarantee their services almost without restriction, even in case of blackout scenarios or overload caused by movements of internally displaced persons. Despite the difficult economic situation (volatile prices, long delivery times, etc.), it has already been possible to procure emergency power generators, various (submersible) pumps, semi-finished steel products, tools and radio equipment. Furthermore, various approaches are being pursued and worked on in the project. Staff are being trained, and made more aware of various problems. Secondly, practical lectures and workshops are helping staff to use the existing technology optimally, and to make improvements.

Compactly organised working meetings at the German partners are being supplemented, for example, by short crash training courses run by the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA).

As the association intensify their work, additional water and wastewater companies from the solidarity partnership network are being supported and integrated into the partnership's further training programme. This is designed to scale-up the acquired knowledge and pursue the idea of neighbourhood wastewater treatment plants. It would be desirable to lay the foundations on which to build a similar structure of neighbourhood sewage treatment plants like those in Germany at some point in the future.

For the remaining project period up to June 2024, selected and specific issues will be prioritised in mutual consultation, and adapted to the current situation in Ukraine:

  • Blackout scenarios: Systematic aspects and conceptual/strategic development in the acute phase with a long-term orientation 
  • Modelling an improved sanitation system:
    Treatment and recycling of sewage sludge (incl. power generation), replacement investments in the sewerage system, eradication of odour problems 
  • Assessment of existing plans for construction of the new wastewater treatment plants in Ternopil and Nadvirna
  • Organisational and management structures: advantages and disadvantages of (partial) privatisation for a municipal enterprise; shareholder analysis
  • Cost-covering tariff formation: proposal of a theoretical tariff model based on the example of Lvivvodokanal, which takes into account necessary investments and is aligned with German standards

Last update: October 2023

Impressions from the last joint meetings

Project profile

Project partners


Lvivvodokanal, Lviv, Ukraine

Nadvirnavodokanal, Nadvirna,

Ternopilvodokanal, Ternopil



Stadtentwässerung Dresden (Lead-partner)

Berliner Wasserbetriebe (Participating partner)

Stadtentwässerungsbetriebe Köln (Participating partner)

Key thematic areas

Blackout scenarios

Modeling of improved wastewater disposal

Evaluation of existing construction plans for the new construction of wastewater treatment plants in Ternopil and Nadvirna

Cost-covering charges

Optimising infrastructure and processes

From project work

Template: List
Women's power in the water industry

Women's power in the water industry


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