Even Amidst War, the Water Flows On

In the face of adversity, surrounded by Russian troops, and under constant bombardment, the employees of Sumy Water Services Company continued to ensure the provision of water to the besieged citizens. This is not hyperbole, but the stark reality they confront daily.

The eruption of full-scale war with Russia sent shockwaves through the company, Anatoliy Sagach, the Director of the Miskvodokanal utility of the Sumy City Council, recounts. Preparing for such cataclysmic events is nearly impossible, particularly for those outside the military sector, he notes.

Bracing for the Unthinkable

“From the onset of the war, the city was under siege for six weeks. Food and other essentials were scarce. The most challenging aspect was the rapid depletion of our material reserves at the enterprise. The ongoing warfare in the city inflicted damage on the networks, pumping equipment, borehole pumps that extract water, and sewage pumps.

We grappled with a significant problem, as we couldn’t deliver pumping equipment or other emergency aid due to the circumstances. However, thanks to businesses that generously shared their warehouse supplies and everyone who contributed even in small ways, we managed to persevere,” Anatoliy recalls.

Pictured: Anatoliy Sagach, the Director of the Miskvodokanal Public Utility Provider of Sumy City Council

Following the repulsion of the Russian forces from Sumy, the first ‘green corridors’ emerged. Yet, new challenges surfaced. Nearly half of the city’s residents had evacuated. Nonetheless, the utilities continued to provide uninterrupted water supply and sewage services round the clock.

As winter 2022-2023 approached, the company anticipated regular emergencies. They braced themselves for potential crises resulting from enemy bombardment. Anatoliy Sagach assures that all damages were promptly repaired to ensure the community consistently received essential utilities from the water services company.

Preparations for the winter of 2023-2024 were even more comprehensive. Emergency supplies, materials, and equipment were restocked. The company’s personnel now feel more at ease than the previous year.

“All employees understand that as long as there are residents in the city, our company will continue to serve them,” Mr. Anatoliy affirms.

He concedes that the daily bombardments in the region dampen spirits.

“Regrettably, we have become familiar with terms like Iskander-M, Iskander-K, and Shakhtys, and we are aware of the Russian occupiers’ sabotage groups. We place our trust in divine providence and our Armed Forces to prevent further deterioration, and we remain vigilant,” he emphasizes.

The water services company’s active collaboration with donor organizations and international colleagues bolsters optimism. The specialized organization Ukrvodokanalekologiya provided substantial support, and fellow Ukrainian companies assisted with supplies from their warehouses. Following the commencement of the war, Sumy received aid from the Polish Water Services Company and collaborated with UNICEF, the Red Cross, and funds from Switzerland, Germany, and France.

Seeking Support Amidst Crisis

A recent testament to productive collaboration is the partnership with East Europe Foundation. The water services company discovered the grant application conditions, submitted a proposal, and emerged victorious in the energy efficiency grant competition, much to their delight.

“When an individual’s hard work is acknowledged with positive feedback, such as the approval of our application, it uplifts our spirits! I am deeply appreciative of our dedicated professionals who meticulously adhered to the competition requirements. This victory is, in many ways, a recognition of their efforts,” Mr. Anatoliy elucidates.

The nature of their work is challenging, the demands are high, and the war’s unpredictability adds to the uncertainty.

To apply for a grant, it’s crucial to pinpoint the company’s needs. According to the Sumy Water Services Company’s head, the company consistently focuses on three components: people, environment, and energy independence.

Given that the project we participated in was centered on energy efficiency, we addressed the third component. We sought the refurbishment of pumping equipment and the modernization of outdoor lighting at the company’s facilities. Mr. Anatoliy is passionate about the workings and necessity of these improvements and is always ready to discuss them at length.

“After the bombardment, the borehole pump malfunctioned, necessitating an immediate upgrade. With support of East Europe Foundation, we acquired a modern pump that operates round-the-clock and consumes significantly less electricity. Our wells are deep – 500-700 meters, so we aim to have superior pumping equipment that requires only routine maintenance for the next 7-10 years.

The fecal pump was antiquated. We received assistance to replace it, along with control cabinets, valves, and a check valve, ensuring that everything was in order, and we could disregard this area for the next 8-10 years.

Sewage management is a crucial aspect of our work. While people can purchase water from stores, they use restrooms at home or work. Therefore, consistent operation is essential. Moreover, this new equipment is energy-efficient.


As for lighting, we manage numerous facilities, encompassing vast territories. For instance, the sewage treatment plant alone spans 50 hectares of land. It’s vital to ensure adequate lighting so that our round-the-clock workforce can navigate the premises without fear. Hence, upgrading the lighting has resulted in substantial savings,” the head of the water services company states. “Based on estimates, the company will save 328 MW of electricity annually, amounting to millions of kW over 7-10 years.”

Understanding and Catering to Community Needs

In terms of community engagement, Anatoliy Sagach assures us that the water services company regularly disseminates information about its operations. The fact that consumers are receiving this information is evident from the views and reach of these messages.

“In essence, what does the community desire? They want to wake up in the morning, visit the bathroom, turn on the faucet and see water flowing. They want to enter another room, press a button, and have water available there too. They are not particularly interested in the technological processes, which is understandable. For them, the primary concern is that our services are of high quality and delivered promptly. The assistance from East Europe Foundation has granted us this stability,” he explains.

Sumy Water Services Company harbors further ambitious plans. They aim to install solar panels to enhance energy independence, introduce new technologies in wastewater treatment, reconstruct treatment facilities and pumping stations, among other initiatives. Even in the face of a full-scale war, the company remains committed to improvement and strives for excellence.

For Your Information

The Miskvodokanal of the Sumy City Council received support as part of the Power Up! Project, implemented by East Europe Foundation. The project aims to improve energy efficiency at 10 enterprises in Sumy, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv regions, as well as administrative buildings in the capital. It is estimated that the project will result in total energy savings of at least 300 MW per year.

The “Power Up!” Project was supported by the program “Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive in Ukraine,” implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and co-financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).