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Public Water Agency of the Year: Shortlist

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

Shortlisted Nominees

 

Air Selangor, Malaysia

What is it?

A special purpose vehicle ultimately owned by the Selangor state government’s investment arm MBI. It was set up in 2007 to be the single provider of water services in Selangor and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya following a restructuring of the water sector. It currently supplies around 8.6 million people.

What has it done?

Twelve years after it was founded, Air Selangor finally achieved its founding goal in 2019 by taking full control of the state’s water supply. As it took on the mantle of sole provider, it demonstrated amply why this situation was deemed important by making major breakthroughs in the improvement of services for its millions of customers.

What makes it special?

2019 marked the culmination of more than a decade of planning to bring Air Selangor to full control of the region’s water supply. The acquisition of the state’s last remaining concessionaire in April reversed decades of fragmentation and placed the organisation in position to wield economies of scale and bring its service excellence to every single resident in the area.

The group pioneered a new approach to “free water” in 2019. By refocusing subsidies on lower-income households, it secured a more stable financial base without compromising water supplies where they are needed most. With high-end new water infrastructure such as the 200,000m3/d Labohan Dagang water treatment plant coming online throughout the year, water provision in Selangor has been completely transformed for residents.

 

The organisation made a stunning breakthrough in 2019 tackling the perennial problem of non-revenue water. Through the mass adoption of pipeline sensors and the replacement of more than 300,000 damaged and old meters, the group significantly exceeded its targeted figure and brough NRW down to a record low of 28.73%, saving an estimated 65 million litres a day of water.

 

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.

 

Mekorot, Israel

What is it?

Israel’s national water company, founded in 1937 and today responsible for bulk supply and management of resources across the country, as well as water supply to neighbouring areas under international agreements.

What has it done?

Last year saw Mekorot demonstrate its unique brand of excellence at both the macro and micro levels of water infrastructure. As it pushed through with colossal infrastructure projects such as the plan to link desalination plants to top up the Sea of Galilee, it helped nurture and deploy an array of new technologies that could define the water sector for decades to come.

What makes it special?

Israel’s already-enviable position as the leading light in combining water with the best of high technology was strengthened further in 2019 by Mekorot as it introduced the best of the world’s water technology across the network. From optical fibres to monitor process systems to the rollout of internet-of-things enabled metering systems to the creation of a unique data-drive management system, the company was ready to deploy the best solutions available at every turn.

Solidifying its reputation as an developer as well as a customer of technological excellence, the company launched its WaTech hub in late 2019 to incubate new technologies and widen Mekorot support and investment in the best the “start-up nation” has to offer.

 

Meanwhile it advanced groundbreaking internally developed tech systems like Meklock – enabling access control to remote sites and saving up to €1 million a year in manual field work costs.

Access to finance is always a tricky issue in water, and Mekorot showed a willingness to explore new areas to support its ambitious goals. Its first-ever public bond issue was three times oversubscribed and ended up raising $280 million, a huge vote of confidence in the body’s work and skills.

 

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.

 

The Global Water Awards 2020 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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