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Sustainable and responsible management of rural water supply systems in Kakanj municipality

In the period from June 15th 2015 to June 15th 2016, ETNAR sub-grantee “Alternative” Kakanj successfully implemented a project called “Sustainable and responsible management of rural water supply systems”. The overall goal of the project was to establish sustainable and responsible management of water supply systems and household waste water removal systems in rural areas […]

In the period from June 15th 2015 to June 15th 2016, ETNAR sub-grantee “Alternative” Kakanj successfully implemented a project called “Sustainable and responsible management of rural water supply systems”. The overall goal of the project was to establish sustainable and responsible management of water supply systems and household waste water removal systems in rural areas of Kakanj municipality. This project was a continuation of an earlier ETNAR sub-grant from 2014 called „Let’s be responsible in water management“.

Kakanj municipality is situated on the Bosna river and is one of the most densely populated and industrially developed municipalities in B-H. Around 70% of people in Kakanj municipality get their water from 40 rural water supply systems that had mostly been built in the period from 1960-1980. Old water networks are increasingly reducing the quality of water. Further, inadequate waste water removal systems additionally pollute the ground and contribute to increased occurrence of landslides. All the water supply systems in question operate only under minimum hygienic-sanitary standards required by the law. Funds necessary for chlorination and controls are collected by beneficiaries themselves and on short-term basis.

There is also the problem of illegal construction as many rural water networks were built without valid construction documentation and necessary permits. During the 2014 project it was discovered that most water supply systems did not have documentation necessary for legalization. Only 10 out of 40 of these water systems had partial documentation and “Altermative” helped them to establish a responsible management system. The next step should be their legalization as well as legalization of all the remaining water supply systems.

Legalization of rural water supply networks is of the utmost importance as it creates conditions necessary to determine the zone of sanitary protection of water springs, to maintain spring areas and to introduce regular controls of hygienic and health quality of water. By determining the zones of sanitary protection one reduces misuses such as disposing of waste close to water springs, excessive use o pesticides and construction of objects. It also enables sanctioning of any other improper activities such as illegal coal mining (specific to Kakanj) etc. Another advantage is that in the case of legalized water supply networks the municipal inspection services are obliged to protect them from abuse whereas in the current situation there is no legal basis to impose sanctions against illegal activities (e.g. coal mining) since the water networks are themselves illegal. Beneficiaries of water supply systems have the opportunity to put them under their control and to create water supply prices transparently that will include minimal administrative costs. Introduction of the water fee collection system creates conditions necessary for protection of water springs, timely maintenance of worn out pipes and valves, regulation of waste water removal and other necessary work.

The most important success of this project is the legalisation of 10 water supply networks, with additional 16 on their way. All 10 legalized water supply networks and 16 which have initiated the legalization process have established management boards and management plans. This also means introduction of the fee collection system to finance water supply network maintenance.

At the end of the year, after the reports by “Alternative” and the water inspector have been submitted, the local government will issue notices to the remaining water supply networks requesting that they be legalized within set time frames. In case they do not comply, the local government can issue fines or initiate the procedure of having the specific water supplies being handed over to the local public company Vodokom Kakanj.

Extensive informative activities were also conducted, including a round table and seven workshops through which the participants (beneficiaries of rural water networks and representatives of local communities) gained knowledge on advantages of water supply network legalization. The workshops were targeted at those water supply networks which had greater number of users and which had all the necessary documentation. For the remaining 17 water networks, informative meetings were also held. In total, around 150 people participated in these events.

Excellent cooperation was established with the local authorities. During the first ETNAR grant from 2014, the Municipality adopted an official Decision on management and protection of rural water supply systems. It has ever since shown considerable consideration for this project’s activities and was willing to accept “Alternative” as a partners in the process of legalization and protection of rural water networks. Local authorities even engaged one of their water inspectors in the project and donated a sum of 1.973 EUR as a support to project activities.

We hope that this successful project will serve as a model for future work on this very important issue in the region.

05.09.2016.