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French support for Sri Lanka utility to better manage water, cut waste

ECONOMYNEXT – France will train senior staff of Sri Lanka’s water utility to better manage water resources and reduce waste at a time it is coping with a severe drought amid modernisation of decades-old pipelines and treatment plants.

The French government has awarded two scholarships for senior members of the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB) to support water management and sustainable development, an embassy statement said.
They  will attend classes in France for the Master “Water for all”, with the support  of the French Agency for Development (AFD) and Suez Environnement, a French multinational utility company.
Nishantha Suranjith, Manager (Commercial – Western Central) of the Water Board and a scholarship recipient, said the training will particularly help to reduce what’s called NRW – non-revenue water – water lost through leaks and illegal water connections.

A mobile app had been intrduced to record data from water meters in selected areas in Colombo to make monitoring more efficient, he said.

Disna Pannila, Manager (Planning & Coordination) of the Water Board, the other scholarship recipients, said non-revenue water is as high as 40% in the Colombo municipal area.

“We are producing water at a ccost but when we lose water through leaks or burst pipes or illegal tapping, we dpn’t earn anything,” said Pannila.

Much of the island’s water infrastructure is old and dilapidated.

Sri Lanka’s utility mapping system is also not good enough with different utilities not aware of each other’s networks resulting in frequent damage during repair or modernisation work, she said.

Pannila also said drought has created supply problems in Kalutara, south of Colombo, with lower river water levels resulting in salt water intrusion at the water treatment plant intake, forcing authorities to supply drinking water through bowsers.

The training program, financed by AFD in partnership with Suez and AgroParisTech, a top universitty for life, food and environmental sciences, aims to promote good governance of the water sector and good leadership and strategic organization of the NWSDB.

It officially starts on Sunday 5th February with about 8 months in Montpellier France, 7 months in Sri Lanka for preparation of a Strategic Action Plan and 4 weeks in Singapore and Cambodia for cases studies.





AFD has been supporting Sri Lanka’s water sector since 2004, funding infrastructure in Trincomalee to provide potable water in the Eastern Province, and is now involved in water supply and sewerage sectors working with the Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply.

Last month AFD and the Asian Development Bank helped fund a project to build an underground reservoir in Gothatuwa with a capacity of 15,000 cubic metres, a pumping station and booster pump and supply and laying of 1,200 mm pipes.

Suez won a contract last year to double capacity of the Kelani River drinking water plant to supply the population in the north-eastern zone of Colombo city.
(COLOMBO, Feb 04 2017)

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