Yet again the Yerevan Water Company has to explain why their subscribers have to go without water, this time because of the sub-zero temperatures – as if this was a phenomenon that occurs in Yerevan every 10 or 20 years, rather than every winter. The problem is mainly caused by technical equipment breaking down when the water freezes; and that especially includes the booster pumps, which are needed to deliver water to the upper floors of Yerevan’s many high-rise apartment buildings.
A year ago, Mr. Popov, Director of the Yerevan Water Company, which is under lease to the French water utility giant Veolia, announced that through 2007 and 2008 the water company would be replacing Yerevan’s 500 booster pumps with modern, efficient and reliable pumping units. This follows a Municipal Development Project report of May 2006, in which the World Bank wrote that 245 of Yerevan’s 795 booster pumps were eliminated as a result of the project, and of the 550 remaining, 240 were replaced by modern, efficient and reliable pumping units. Although the Bank report concludes that only 310 old booster pumps remained, Veolia nevertheless was embarking on a 2-year program to replace 500 pumps. So presumably, by the end of 2007 the company will have replaced 250 pumps and it will have had a warehouse full of the original pumps which were taken out of service.
During 2005 and 2006, following my experience with the Parliamentary Commission, I persuaded the Armenia water authority to stop the Italian operator pumping up the water pressure in the low-pressure pipe system to an unacceptable level of 5 atmospheres, which it apparently wanted to do to eliminate Yerevan's system of booster pumps. The A. Utility plan was simply a ploy to over-burden the pipes to demonstrate the need for another 450 million dollars credit to replace Yerevan’s entire low-pressure water distribution system. The authorities were eventually convinced that the proper approach was to keep the pipe line at its design pressure of 2 atmospheres and to invest a much lesser 3 million dollars to improve Yerevan’s system of 795 booster pumps, which are an integral and necessary part of the system.
I designed and piloted a booster pump project to prove that modern, efficient booster pump units can operate reliably throughout the day and use less electricity than the old Soviet type pumps, which operated for between 4 and 8 hours each day - when they were not broken down and in need of repair. A pilot project was implemented and the results showed that the modern pumping unit operating throughout the day used only half the electricity the original pump used when working for 8 hours. The Head of the State Water Committee approved full project implementation.
One of the three pilot project pump units continues to be under my management and all day it provides water to more than 250 apartments in the center of Yerevan. Today, during a routine visit to check that the pump house heating (that I installed) was keeping the temperature above freezing, I saw that the original pump, which has remained in position, but which has not operated for the past 18 months, had been broken down and spare parts had been removed – presumably to repair another failed booster pump.
So I have this question for Mr. Popov: If 250 of Yerevan’s booster pumps have been replaced by new and efficient units, why have water company engineers pilfered spares from our old pump?