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Public Water Agency of the Year

For the governmental agency or public body that made the biggest difference to water and wastewater service provision and utility management in 2019. See the full shortlist showreel here.

National Water Company, Saudi Arabia

What is it?

The state-owned national water and wastewater services utility, responsible for the supply of potable water and collection and treatment of wastewater for more than 33 million people across the Kingdom.

What has it done?

The NWC’s remit was expanded from major cities to cover the entire country in 2019, at a stroke making it perhaps the world’s largest utility. In the time since, the body has flawlessly incorporated the new areas into its portfolio, while transforming its operations and service levels – and laying the way for even more radical and exciting changes in the years to come.

What makes it special?

The colossal bureaucratic challenge of folding rural and outlying areas with disparate needs into the NWC’s cutting-edge urban service quality levels was met in 2019 by the company’s groundbreaking Hayat digital customer care and billing programme. Successfully completed in an ambitious nine-month timeline, the system merged six legacy systems and 55 million-plus records to a unified system that enhanced customer experiences while transforming the utility’s reaction times.

In 2019 the NWC put the final touches to a aggressive smart metering programme that has driven the utility’s transformation strategy.


Over 2019 a new smart meter was installed every minute on average, cutting the utility’s meter reading costs by 75% and creating a wealth of data that allowed it to smash improvement targets – non-revenue water levels were reduced by 3.4% over the course of 2019 alone.

Last year saw the start of procurement for the NWC’s regional “management, operation and maintenance” contracts, under which the private sector will be invited to support and improve utility services in a way and scope never before seen in the region. Rigorous planning and thinking outside the box meant the NWC and its advisors are now finally positioned to allow private sector expertise to pay off for tens of millions of people in the Kingdom.


Gujarat Water Infrastructure, Ltd, India

What is it?

A state-owned body created to ensure bulk water supply through the establishment of new infrastructure in the arid state of Gujarat, India.

What has it done?

Gujarat joined Tamil Nadu as the hub of Indian desalination development in 2019, thanks largely to the efforts of Gujarat Water Infrastructure Ltd. (GWIL). As India developed into one of the quickest-growing markets for desal around, the financial confidence and careful contracting and collaboration shown by GWIL made desal pay off in ways that would not have been though possible, a huge boon for one of the world’s most drought-affected regions.

What makes it special?

The awarding by GWIL of four major desalination contracts with a combined capacity of 270,000m3/d around Gujarat to an Aquatech/Shapoorji Pallonji team showed that municipal desalination can make a difference in India, and gives the country a new string to its bow when it comes to dealing with the ongoing drought conditions savaging part of the country.

With the four desalination projects to be rolled out under the private finance-supported Hybrid Annuity Model, the deals showed that major infrastructure need not mean a major capital burden on the public purse in India.


It brought new investors into the Indian infrastructure market and positions the country’s sector well for further PPP development at a crucial time for the country’s water infrastructure.

The Gujarat projects were issued to the market and finalised over the course of 2019 – one of the quickest ever procurement processes for projects of these type and scale, and a stunning breakthrough for contracting in a traditionally torpid project market. It is a hugely positive sign for the numerous future projects set to be rolled out to address water shortages.