Water supply and wastewater disposal

Improved management of the water sector for more efficient use of existing water resources

The issue of water and wastewater is inextricably linked to the process of urbanisation. While national entities are charged to establish legal frameworks for water and wastewater management, the responsibility to provide and operate this fundamental public service rests with local governments and their public utilities.

However, many municipalities facing an increase of their urban population are faced with the challenge to provide their citizens with adequate water related services, like water provision and waste water treatment, under a constantly high utilisation pressure.

This broad challenge is usually connected with the need to shift to a more efficient use of available water resources by means of improved water sector governance, and better water sector performance with more efficient irrigation techniques in the agricultural sector, which holds the largest share of water consumption.

Moreover, the efficiency of water utilities should be increased in terms of cost-recovery, reduction of water losses and improved customer service. To enable water utilities to provide a reliable water supply, their resilience needs to be strengthened and the operating capacity of water providers supported. Besides, on community level behavioural change and water saving are needed to achieve a more sustainable water management.

The water sector has strong overlaps with the waste and energy sector, offering potentials for synergies. An integrated approach could, for example, reuse the product of water and sewage treatment processes (sludge) for energy production and/or to produce compost or fertiliser. Efficient and cost-effective heat exchange devices already allow the production of up to 1 Megawatt of energy from waste water.