Pumping Water Can Be Done Efficiently

Nizhyn valiantly endured the siege from the aggressor at the onset of Ukraine’s full-scale invasion by Russian forces. Viktor Porodko, deputy director of the Nizhyn Water Supply and Sewerage Management, recalls that those months were a difficult challenge.

How People Worked Under Siege

“Life was abruptly split into a ‘before’ and ‘after’. The city was under siege, which immediately impacted the functioning of public utilities. Some workers live in the nearby villages. Therefore, some people found it significantly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to commute to work. Some chose not to work at all. People were haunted by fear for their lives. However, there were also other employees who literally lived at the enterprise to ensure its operation,” the deputy director of the company says.

Viktor Porodko (pictured) recalls how they were constantly afraid of accidents in the network while procuring and delivering the clamps necessary for pipeline repairs was an immense challenge, sometimes an impossibility. But the old network had not taken the war factor into account, leading to daily emergencies.

“The winter of 2022-2023 was particularly harsh,” the head of the utility company recalls.

Since many people left the city and the population has decreased significantly, water consumption also dropped significantly. Schools and kindergartens were closed. Revenue from water services dwindled. At the same time, the population’s utility debts began to rise.  Tax payments were also declining, which directly affected the financing of the city’s utilities.

While not all aspects of this strategically important enterprise’s operations can be publicly disclosed, when asked about preparations for the winter of 2023-2024, Viktor Porodko confidently asserts, “We were prepared.”

How Optimism Appeared

The company is equipped with emergency power supplies and fuel reserves. This gives people optimism and faith. The most significant change has been the shift in the employees’ and city residents’ mindset. From the despair of a possible occupation last winter to boundless faith in victory.

“We pray for our defenders. We know that on the renewed land there will be no enemy, no adversary, but a son, and a mother, and people on the earth,” he quotes the classic.

Their confidence was further bolstered by a grant received from East Europe Foundation.

“We learned about the opportunity to receive assistance from a letter from the city council’s Office of Energy Efficiency,” the utility company’s deputy head recalls. “We registered and participated in an online meeting, which marked the beginning of our relationship with the Foundation and its specialists”.

Victor says it was not a difficult task to do the necessary preparatory work to submit documents for the competition. All departments of the utility company — from technical to operational — collaborated on the project’s required documentation.

“We shared the Foundation’s vision. We are committed to reducing electricity consumption, and the Foundation was able to assist us in this endeavor. We had some experience working with such organizations, so we no longer felt fear or uncertainty. This is our second grant won on a competitive basis.

Despite our limited experience in preparing documents in accordance with the donor’s requirements and procedures, we did an excellent job with the assistance of the Foundation’s specialists, Yuliia Smahliukova and Oksana Medvedenko. We are extremely grateful to them. Working on the project and receiving support from the Foundation has been a rewarding experience filled with positive impressions.

Winning the competition was perceived at the enterprise as a hope for the realization of a cherished dream. Our faith in victory never left us. We had already mentally installed the grant pumping equipment, and no one was going to abandon this dream,” Porodko recalls.

In the photo: Dismantling the old pumping equipment

The competition’s primary goal is to encourage companies to become more energy-efficient, with the objective of saving 300 mW of electricity per year. Therefore, the utility’s choice was clear: to procure a replacement pump with a frequency converter. This solution addressed two urgent needs of the company at once: it allowed for the replacement of old and nearly obsolete equipment, and the new pump also brought benefits in the form of energy savings.

How the Support Will Work

“Replacing the constantly operating pump of the second lift with a European-quality pump from the globally recognized Lowara brand will save more than 300 mW of electricity. At the current cost of electricity, the savings will amount to UAH 2.8 million. The frequency converter will protect the pump motor and program the pump operation depending on the water consumption and the required pressure,” Porodko explains.

Experts have modeled how the city’s water supply system would change if the old equipment was replaced with new pumps purchased by donors. The calculations confirm that the old pump, with an efficiency of 62%, is significantly inferior to the new equipment with an efficiency of 80%.

This is how we should finance efficient solutions if we aim to maintain and increase the country’s energy independence.

Pictured: a post by Serhii Karelin, expert on energy efficiency of water supply systems.
Translation of the post:

“Today, while conducting a regular lesson with the first group of hydraulic modeling training for territorial communities under the DOBRE USAID program, I experienced immense teaching pleasure. One of the ‘students’ modeled the use of new pumps planned to be purchased by donors and confirmed that the use of an old pump with an average daily efficiency of 62% is significantly inferior to the new solution with an efficiency of 80%.

This is exactly how Ukraine’s housing and utilities sector should operate, focusing on financing the most efficient solutions. But this is an exception, unfortunately — not within the framework of state policy, although it is the country’s energy independence.”

The news of winning the competition uplifted not only the staff of the water services company. It also delighted the city’s community and inspired the employees of the investment and energy efficiency departments at the city council. After all, they see that their advice and recommendations lead to such tangible results, benefiting the entirety of Nizhyn.

In the photo: A newly installed pump at the enterprise, a testament to the Power Up! project.

At present, water services companies are on the verge of survival, when the cost of electricity is rising and a moratorium on tariff increases has been announced, the implementation of energy efficiency programs offers not just a lifeline, but an opportunity for transformation. After all, without change, continued operation in this market becomes impossible.

Viktor Porodko confirms this claim:

“Participating in the competition has sparked new ambitious ideas within us. Interacting with professionals from East Europe Foundation has been both inspiring and motivating, driving us towards new accomplishments.”

For Your Information

As part of the Power Up! initiative, the Nizhyn Water Supply and Sewerage Administration received support to enhance its energy efficiency. This enabled the purchase of electronic equipment for the Chervona Hreblya water pumping station.

This project was conceived by East Europe Foundation with the aim of implementing energy efficiency in three administrative buildings in Kyiv and measures across ten enterprises in the Sumy, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv regions.

The Power Up! project is implemented within the program Promotion of Energy Efficiency and Implementation of the EU Energy Efficiency Directive in Ukraine, executed by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the governments of Germany and Switzerland.

Upon successful implementation of the Power Up! project, it is projected that the total annual energy savings for the chosen ten enterprises will reach a minimum of 3000 MW/year.