Frequent water outages force people to use village taps
Bulgaria is rich in water resources. For years, the EU budget has allocated billions so that we can have a normal water supply and that clean water flows from the taps at an affordable price. The paradox is that, despite this, half of Bulgaria suffers from water regimes, and water supply tariffs are becoming more and more insane. Rivers are disappearing, dams are drying up, in entire regions 90% of the water is wasted due to leaks in the network and only 10% seeps into homes.
Over the years, the water and sanitation sector has become a vast field of corruption, fraud, vicious public procurement and schemes with the “absorption” of European funds – under the wing of the authorities, government after government, writes “Now“.
Svoge turned out to be another emblem of absurdities with the “golden water”. There is a new tank there, but for some reason no pipes go to it. Therefore, the inhabitants constantly live in an extreme situation – either there is no water at all, or they are flooded.
Years ago, the former minister of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Liliana Pavlova, during whose time the repair work on the Studena dam in Pernik, liked to repeat how at least BGN 11-12 billion is needed to solve the problems of the water supply sector. It was never clear whether in the quoted amount also includes the large percentages for the politicians’ drawers.
27 million for demonstration water supply
In the year before the pandemic, due to rotted pipes and botched dam repairs, the taps in Pernik ran dry for a long time. Repairing the wall of the “Studena” dam was going to be done with an underwater drone, but then they apparently decided otherwise and almost drained the reservoir, hoping that the rains would fill it up again. The complicity in causing trouble for Perničans did not prevent the rulers of GERB from getting saviors. And the dam drama gave them a convenient reason to spend solid budget resources on the wind. The hastily built pipe between Malo Buchino and Pernik turned out to be as expensive as it was useless (its price was almost BGN 27 million). The blame for the drying up of “Studena” was placed on the then Eco-Minister Neno Dimov. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications did not find any culprits.
The topic of the stolen pipes between Pchelina Dam, from which the industry in the area once received water, flashed and died. No consequences. No one took responsibility for the years-delayed replacement of the street water pipes in Pernik.
Dry taps and mounting bills
According to statistics, hundreds of small and larger settlements in our country are on water regime. Their number increases dramatically during drought. However, the problem is mainly exacerbated by the lack of money to replace the rotten water pipes. And the search for solutions remains mainly at the level of planning and advertising statements. In April, the MRR announced that the water supply networks in 6 regions of Bulgaria will be modernized with nearly BGN 1 billion under the new “Environment” program. And the other areas? There are over 80,000 km of water pipes in the country and most of them need replacement or at least repair.
The favorite answer of the heads of the water companies to the problems of losses and frequent shut-offs of water due to accidents is: investment in the network is needed, and to get the funds we need to increase the tariffs. There is business logic in this, but we have been watching the same movie for many five years now – prices are rising, but the quality of plumbing services is not. Has the water in Silistra and Razgrad become cleaner, or will accidents and leaks decrease, since subscribers in these areas will now pay more than BGN 5 per cubic meter? And hopefully But unlikely…
The Reservoir Called “The Torrential Flood”
According to Construction Minister Ivan Shishkov, the more expensive water in Burgas is due to the repairs of the “Poroy” dam, owned by the local water company. They were built without a building permit, and the reservoir became evidence of yet another flood of irresponsibility.
Three years before GERB’s long reign ended, huge funds were poured into the State Consolidation Company (SCC). DCC was tasked with coordinating the repairs of the hundreds of dangerous dams in Bulgaria. In April 2018, projects for 223 reservoirs were approved, and the value of the planned works for them was calculated at over BGN 512 million excluding VAT (over BGN 17 million was allocated for the design alone). And how was that money used? Under the first caretaker government last year, it became clear that very few dams were repaired and most were dry bottoms overgrown with grass. It is likely that both the contracting authorities and the contractors of the sites knew how the work was done and did not take the risk of filling the reservoirs. Empty but golden. A year ago, an inspection of Kiril Petkov, then acting minister of the economy, found that the accounts had been inflated by more than 2 times. Media and politicians made noise and there was silence again. There is still no exact information on how many of the “emergency” over 220 dams have been repaired and what happened to the allocated half a billion BGN from the budget.
At the time of GERB, a state water supply holding was created with aplomb, which was supposed to work to improve the water supply in our country. It was registered in May 2020 with an impressive capital of BGN 1.038 billion. So far, the holding’s only role has been as a piggy bank – it has granted loans of around a hundred million BGN to stalled plumbing companies (which will probably be simplified and written off as a loss over time). . There are no visible results.
“Beli Iskar” – a game of Russian roulette
About 10 years ago, there was talk of the need for urgent repair of the “Beli Iskar” dam in Rila. For two five years, many responsible people in the state knew about the problems of the 75-year-old dam, but became complicit in the game of Russian roulette with the security of its wall. Among them are the water holding in question, DCK, and the administration of the Sofia region.
During this period, the problematic dam fills less, which in dry years creates risks for the normal water supply of many settlements below it, including a part of Sofia. Probably, the procrastination may also be the result of another self-interested scheme. Let’s not forget that the worse the condition of a facility, the more expensive it is to repair and, accordingly, the larger the amount going to someone’s drawers.
Ivan Terziiyski from the initiative group in the town of Beli Iskar reported on another round of clerical layoffs. It was already said that the responsibility for the repair of the facility will be transferred from the waterworks holding again to the regional governor of the Sofia region. “Each spring for more than 10 years, experts inspect the wall of the dam and only find the need for urgent repairs. And this summer they did not start work, and practically the construction season has already been dropped. We are told that new projects had to be made. We are praying that there will not be a stronger earthquake, because then there is a big risk that the damaged wall will break and cause a disaster in the settlements downstream,” he says. Terziyski added that for the past few years, the former chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, the president Rumen Radev, all regional ministers and prime ministers have been aware of the dangers and so far nothing significant has been done to start the repairs faster.
Strangely, there is a ban on photographing the wall of the ill-fated dam because it was a classified site. Perhaps because those in power believe that if a problem doesn’t make it into the media, then it doesn’t exist.