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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07PRISTINA542 2007-07-13 09:30:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Pristina
Cable title:  

KOSOVO: ABNORMALLY WARM AND DRY WINTER EXPOSES

Tags:   SENV EAGR EAID PGOV UNMIK YI 
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DE RUEHPS #0542/01 1940930
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130930Z JUL 07
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRISTINA 000542 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/SCE, DRL, SCRS, INL, AND S/WCI, NSC FOR BRAUN,
USUN FOR DREW SCHUFLETOWSKI, USOSCE FOR STEVE STEGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID PGOV UNMIK YI
SUBJECT: KOSOVO: ABNORMALLY WARM AND DRY WINTER EXPOSES
WEAKNESS IN KOSOVO'S PUBLIC WATER SYSTEM



1. (U) Summary. Many regions of Kosovo suffer from water
scarcity, poor drinking water quality, and absence of waste
water treatment. An unusually mild and dry winter has halved
fresh water inflow into artificial lakes and reservoirs in
most of Kosovo, and led to widespread water cut-offs.
Several parts of rural Kosovo, including several Serb
enclaves, have already run completely out of water.
Agriculture, which relies on traditional irrigation methods,
is also at risk in some areas. In normal years, the weakness
in Kosovo's water system are masked by abundant water. End
Summary.

OVERVIEW



2. (U) Given the dry winter and the visibly low reservoirs,
there is concern throughout Kosovo about the adequacy of the
water supply. Overall, UNMIK judges the current situation to
be under control, but water supplies vary across the regions
of Kosovo. Generally, western and southern Kosovo are better
off than the east. Gjilan, Ferizaj, Pristina, and Mitrovica
are all operating under water restrictions, with cut-offs for
at least 8 hours a day. Gjakova, Peja, and Decan water
supplies are currently adequate, although irrigation demands
will likely significantly strain supplies by the end of the
summer. Urban areas are much better off than rural villages
that rely on wells and springs.

ANTIQUATED INFRASTRUCTURE AND INEFFECTIVE CONSERVATION
MEASURES



3. (U) Throughout Kosovo, water systems suffer from
antiquated pipes and equipment, significant losses of water
due to leakage, and illegal connections. Investment is
hampered by lack of revenue, and water conservation is
virtually nil in the cities, evidenced by the large number of
operating car washes and businesses still hosing down the
sidewalk twice a day. Enforcement mechanisms for the water
restrictions consist of largely ineffective ticketing systems
that require court adjudication.

REGIONAL WATER COMPANIES



4. (U) Most of Kosovo is served by seven regional water
companies created by the Kosovo Trust Agency (KTA), the
exception being small water companies in the north and small
rural villages not connected to the water distribution system
at all. The Pristina Regional Water Company (PRWC) covers
seven municipalities and 40 percent of Kosovo's population.
The two main water sources are Batllava and Badovc
reservoirs, with secondary sources at Fushe Kosova and
Lipjan. These reservoirs are currently well below capacity;
Batllava has 18 out of 39 million cubic meters available and
Badovc has 10 out of 26 million cubic meters, an estimated 9
month supply. As a result, PRWC has cut off the water in
Pristina from 23:00 to 5:00 daily.



5. (U) Peja, Istok, Decan, and Klina municipalities rely on
natural spring sources and have no storage capacity. Current
flows from the springs, however, are higher than normal.
Prizren municipality also relies on water from natural
springs with no storage capacity. Current flows are normal,
with 90 percent of Prizren receiving water 24 hours a day.
Gjakova municipality depends on the Radoniqi reservoir, which
is filled by snow melt from the Bistrica river. Lack of
snowfall last year has reduced the amount of water, and
restrictions are likely later in the summer. Ferizaj
municipality has no current problems with water supply, but
has put water restrictions into place from 20:00 to 5:00,
with additional restrictions planned.



6. (U) Gjilan municipality is facing the most serious water
shortages. The Prilepnica reservoir has 19 out of 30 million
cubic meters available. With only 40-50 days of water
remaining, supply has been restricted to twice a week and the
municipality has completed plans to truck in water.



7. (U) Water restrictions are currently in place in the

PRISTINA 00000542 002 OF 002


Mitrovica region (Zvecan, Skenderaj and Vushtrri
municipalities). Zvecan reportedly has water in 30 minute
increments three times a day. The region gets its water
supply from the Gazivoda reservoir, one of the largest
reservoirs in Europe. The reservoir is full, but treatment
facilities are inadequate and distribution relies on an
ineffective gravity-based pumping system. High demand and
leakage in the south at the lowest point in the system
reduces the pressure, leading to insufficient supplies in the
north. The location of the sole treatment facility in south
Mitrovica leaves the unfortunate perception in the sorth that
the south is responsible for reducing the flow of water.
There is no cooperation between the Ibar Water Company in the
north and the southern regional water company. Customers in
the north are not billed for water; in the south, only around
half of the customers pay for water. To increase north-south
cooperation over water, the international community, led by
UNMIK Pillar IV, plans to undertake confidence-building
measures like installing water meters and forming a technical
working group with experts from both sides.

RURAL KOSOVO IS HIT THE HARDEST



8. (U) Along with Gjilan, the most severe water shortages
are occurring in rural Kosovo. Up to 60 percent of the
population of Kosovo lives in rural areas, but only 9 percent
have access to controlled and safe water from public water
supplies. The wells and springs the rest of the villages
depend on are already drying up. Several Serb enclaves,
including Badovac/Badovc and Susica/Sushice have been without
running water for weeks. The Municipal Community Office in
Gracanica has implemented water restrictions, cutting off
water every other day from 8:00 to 16:00 in the villages of
Laplje Selo/Llapllaselle and Preoce/Preoc. KFOR plans to
deliver and treat water in the most at-risk villages.

DIM PROSPECTS FOR NEAR-TERM REFORM AND INVESTMENT



9. (U) Reforms to the broken water system in Kosovo are
hampered by financial sustainability questions. Like other
utilities in Kosovo, revenue collection is inefficient; total
debt for the period of 1999 to 2007 in Pristina alone is 26.7
million euros. Across Kosovo, only 35 percent of supplied
water is paid for. There are two competing views for
improving the longer-term supply of water in Kosovo. The
first, held by the majority of local experts and government
officials, supports investment in new infrastructure. The
alternative strategy, supported by Tim Westermoreland, the
Kosovo Trust Agency's Head of Water Sector, Publicly Owned
Enterprise (POE) Division, focuses initially on technical
assistance to enable the utilities to reduce technical and
economic losses, estimated at 54 percent. Following either
strategy, improvements are unlikely to come in time to affect
the water situation this summer in Kosovo.



10. (U) Comment: Kosovo's normally abundant rain and snow
falls usually compensate for its poor infrastructure and
ineffective regulatory environment. As with electricity,
there is no incentive to conserve when there is no means to
bill for usage. A return to normal precipitation patterns
would ease the problem; a durable solution will require the
commodification of water -- meaning getting people to pay for
that which they have heretofore received for free. We will
continue to work with KTA and the PISG to begin to address
the structural challenges, and follow KFOR and others'
efforts to relieve the most affected areas.
KAIDANOW