Veolia and the Municipality of Sofia – A successful public-private partnership for the greatest benefit to Sofia citizens
For 12 years now, Sofiyska Voda and its majority shareholder Veolia have been successfully managing the water and sewer infrastructures of the city of Sofia in a joint company with the Municipality.
During this period, such collaboration has borne its fruits and a number of improvements have been made. More than 512 million BGN were invested by the end of 2021 to maintain and upgrade the water and sewer infrastructures, including the construction of more than 530 km of pipes.
Placing our customers at the core of our activities enabled us to improve their trust and the client satisfaction year after year (90% in 2021). Sofiyska Voda was the first water utility company to set up in Bulgaria a 24/7 service focused on our customers. The digitalization of our services has significantly progressed facilitating interactions with customers. This includes our new website and mobile app released last year which provide valuable information and greatly simplify the ways we communicate and serve customers.
The management of the resources have been also a constant subject of attention in this partnership. Compared to 2010, 78 million m3 of water resources have been preserved in 2021 thanks to our performant action plans. This brought a remarkable increase over the years of 20% in water network efficiency placing Sofiyska Voda as a top performer in Bulgaria. With 60% water network efficiency, Sofiyska Voda is far above the 2021 national benchmark of 40% and already ahead of the EWRC long-term goal of 49% for the whole BG water sector. More impressive is the level of green energy produced today in Kubratovo waste water treatment plant. The plant is not only fully self-sufficient since 2015, but it produces today more than 85% of the whole energy consumption of the company. This definitely strengthens the resilience of the company in the current energy market conditions.
For instance, more recently, despite the rising costs due to the global and multiple crisis situations, Sofiyska Voda was the only operator to propose no tariff increase in 2022 while the industry has claimed for an average increase of almost 40%. Also, in 2022, Sofiyska Voda is with the lowest price of the WSS services among the big and medium-sized WSS operators.
The citizens of Sofia are not only drinking one of the purest water in Europe, but also all these efforts brought Sofia at the 2nd rank in Europe and 6th rank worldwide in the 2021 edition of the Economist Water Optimization index ahead of cities like London, Paris, or Madrid. Moreover, Sofia WWTP is not just a flagship project for Sofia Municipality but is also used by the European Commission as a benchmark and a model for energy neutrality.
Sofiyska Voda and Veolia have shown their resilience delivering its essential services without discontinuation during the peaks of the pandemic or other emergency situations. The quality of that resilience was also shown in the joint action with the Municipality and State Authorities to address the water crisis in Pernik back in 2020.
In full compliance with the Concessions Act, it is therefore natural for Veolia to propose the extension of this successful partnership for 8 more years during which, we intend to pursue our improvement projects while continuing to provide to Sofia citizens and industries a high standard and reliable service at an affordable tariff.
This will be guaranteed by a robust investment plan amounting 634 million BGN until 2034 that will not only provide resources to maintain and upgrade the WSS infrastructures on a yearly basis, but also to support in addition to that the extension of sewerage infrastructure. For the period from 2010 to 2034, the investment will reach 1.15 billion BGN with an average of 53 million BGN per year from 2022.
Preserving water resources – an essential task to secure safe water delivery - will be combined with our actions to protect and enrich biodiversity on our sites and with our efforts to reduce our activities’ CO2 footprint (75,000 tons saved annually in Kubratovo) to further improve our environmental performance. Regarding energy resource management, our plan is simply to reach 100% energy neutrality by 2025 which is an outstanding performance in Bulgaria and for the global water market.
Inspired by Veolia’s Purpose and fuelled by innovation and operation performance of the teams, our wish is that at the end of our fruitful partnership, the city of Sofia and its citizens will be provided an affordable, reliable and environment-conscious service through the best and effective WSS network in Bulgaria, a benchmark for other cities of the world.