Aguas del Norte and Caesb decided to start a Water Operators´ Partnership, a not-for-profit peer exchange to support the capacity development in the mentee operators (Aguas del Norte). The initial focus for the WOP was energy efficiency however building on this success, the operators decided to extend their partnership and focus on metering, tariffs, IT systems and wastewater treatment.
Representatives from the Compañía Salteña de Agua y Saneamiento (Aguas del Norte) in Argentina and the Companhia de Saneamento Ambiental do Distrito Federal (Caesb) in Brazil met for the first time in 2010 during a workshop organized in Colombia to identify strengths and weaknesses of utilities in the region and look for ways for them to help one another. At the time, the Argentinian utility, in a dry mountainous sector of the country, was struggling to reduce its energy bills, while the Brazilians had some recent good experience in the area.
Over the initial years, the Argentinian operator saved over 100,000 USD owing to energy efficiency measures and is working on introducing more effective metering and billing methods. The total cost of the initial phase of the partnership was just over 47,000 USD, with 32,000 USD provided by the Inter-American Development Bank and the remaining third covered by the operators themselves.
Wildener Rodovalho, IT Project leader at Caesb said, "The WOP is very important for our company because we learn other processes, working methods, ways to save money...and for us, it is very nice to be able to talk about our work, to share how we are growing, to help other utilities.¨
Although the WOP helped Aguas del Norte make important operational changes and cost savings, it also helped the team make the most of existing resources to improve their service. Today, the two operators continue working together.
BEWOP (Boosting the effectiveness of Water Operators´ Partnerships) is a 5-year research, operational support and outreach initiative aimed at boosting the effectiveness of Water Operators' Partnerships around the world. Launched in September 2013, BEWOP is a collaboration between leading water sector capacity development instituted, UNESCO-IHE, and GWOPA, the organization leading the global WOPs movement. This factsheet is part of a series summarizing WOPs cases being studied in order to draw lessons and guide better practice.