EMSAPUNO (Peru) water utility, operates under challenging topographic conditions in Puno in terms of water service provision. With limited space for expansion on flat land around the only freshwater source, Lake Titicaca, the operators incur high energy and maintenance costs associated with the location of pumping stations situated at an elevation of 4100-m. Additionally, risks with regard to the health and water quality were areas where EMSAPUNO could benefit from the Brazilian operator COPASA’s tested experience in regions facing similar challenges.
This one-year WOP resulted in an initial draft of a Water Safety Plan for the Peruvian operator and will improve safety of the services provided to 116,400 customers in the region. The increased technical and planning capacity of staff from EMSAPUNO has also raised awareness on water quality issues and created a sense of responsibility for public health protection.
The WHO Guidelines for drinking-water quality recommend that water suppliers develop and implement the ‘Water Safety Plan’ (WSP) methodology as the most effective way to ensure continuous provision of safe drinking-water. Using a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management method that encompasses all steps from catchment to consumer, the utilities can identify and address priority issues that affect service delivery.
Through the WSP approach, EMSAPUNO’s staff also improved its capacity in terms of operational management efficiency, namely by identifying critical control points in the system and required control measures, while also acquiring an overarching framework for the planning and prioritization of future infrastructure improvements in the system to ensure safe water provision. The success of this partnership was highlighted by the Head of EMSAPUNO’s Operation and Maintenance Division, “we now have the will and method to do things well, understanding the importance of infrastructure and acknowledging that this affects the health of the population.”
Representatives from EMSAPUNO and COPASA first met during a Water Safety Plan workshop in 2012 in Quito, Ecuador. The workshop, hosted by UN-Habitat/GWOPA, the International Water Association and Cap-Net, aimed to provide training to participants on how to develop, implement and maintain a WSP in their utilities.
The total cost of this year-long partnership was 19,000 USD, of which 14,000 USD was financed by GWOPA and 5,000 USD by Cap-Net. Moreover, an estimated in-kind value of staff time field visits was estimated at 7,500 USD and 7,350 USD from EMSAPUNO and COPASA respectively. An additional contribution of 32,000 USD by EMSAPUNO was budgeted for during the initial planning phase, to be allocated towards the development of the WSP.
Furthermore, there has been a strong alignment with national reforms whereby the Ministry of Health’s requirement for all water utilities in Peru to have in place a Plan de Control de Calidad opens opportunities for the financing and implementation of WSPs. This demand-driven and target focused partnership culminated in a cost-effective collaboration on account of appropriate operator matchmaking.