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News 21 Feb 14

Winter Drought Threatens Kosovo Capital's Water

The Kosovo capital is facing continued curbs on use of running water, following the driest winter in more than 20 years.

BIRN
Pristina

While parts of northern Europe endure their wettest winter since records began,  authorities in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, say they must continue curbing the water supply following a winter drought.

Gjelosh Vataj, from the Regional Water Company, said the local Batllava lake reservoir had lost a couple more centimetres in only 24 hours.

Measures entered into force about two weeks ago and in some areas of Pristina water is now on for only seven or eight hours a day.

Dardan Gashi, Minister of Environment, warned that cutting down the use of water was not a permanent solution to the problem. “We don’t save much water by reducing the supply, or resolve the problem [in the long term]”, he said.

Kosovo is coming to the end of the driest winter in years.

As a result, water levels have fallen in the Batlava and Badovc basins, due to the lack of rain and melt from snow.

If the weather does not change soon the reservoirs might dry up completely, which would leave some 400,000 people in the capital and the areas around it without any water supply.

The Kosovo Hydro-meteorological Institute expects some relief soon. “We expect rain to fall in the coming days,” Besim Aliu, from the institute, said.

Water outages are nothing new for Pristina. From late at night - usually around 11pm. -  to around 5 or 6am, most homes and businesses are without running water. Cuts also happen from time to time during the day.

The Regional Water Company Prishtina says it does this because its two water treatment plants have not kept up with the city’s growing population.

According to the company’s 2013-2016 business plan, illegal connections and excessive consumption from suburban areas and villages also strain the water supply.

The company is planning to offer 24-hour water in 2016 or 2017 following the addition of a third water treatment plant.

The plant will be built in Shkabaj, a village six kilometres from Prishtina, with a processing capacity of 700 litres of water per second.

The plant is slated to cost 35 million euro, with 20 million euro coming from a loan from the German Development Bank, which signed a contract with the water company in June 2012.

The European Commission, the Kosovo government and the Municipality have each pledged 5 million euro to the project as well.

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