MARIGOT–A new water producer and distributor SAUR will be taking over from Générale des Eaux when the latter’s contract terminates on November 30, 2018, it was confirmed at Wednesday’s Territorial Council meeting.
The public potable water and drainage service is managed for the Collectivité by Établissement des Eaux et de l’Assainissement de Saint-Martin EEASM, which delegates part of its responsibility to a private body through Delegations Services Publiques (DSP).
On November 30, 2018, the three current DSPs will come to an end: water production DSP granted to UCDEM, and the two distribution and sanitation DSPs granted to Générale des Eaux. The continuity of public water service therefore required the choice of a new manager starting December 1, 2018.
In order to take into account profitability of the DSP the choice was made to merge the three DSPs into one. It was important for the Collectivité and EEASM to grant this contract to a structure that had back up resources to allow rapid intervention on the territory in the event of an emergency or major climate disaster.
Since May 2018, the procedure followed its course and one applicant was selected at the end of August: SAUR is a French group with an international portfolio specialising in the water sector and already established in the Caribbean.
The months of September and October were rich in exchanges between EEASM and SAUR to reach an agreement that must guarantee the quality of the public service, an acceptable final price for water for the consumer and a reasonable profitability of the DSP for the delegate over the duration of the commitment, i.e. 10 years.
The commitments include performance of networks, water quality, optimization of the operation of the desalination plant, knowledge of drinking water and sanitation assets, monitoring the functioning of the sanitation network, the operation of wastewater treatment plants and the quality of discharges, customer management, the relationship with the Collectivité, and operation of the non-collective sanitation service.
Local employment and skills transfer were among the main criteria for choice and a condition set by the Collectivité and EEASM in the context of this delegation. In this sense, it provides for local management, the transfer of 31 employees to SAUR, the creation of new technical and administrative jobs, the use of local sub-contracting and projects dedicated to integration through economic activity.
It was essential for both the Collectivité and EEASM as well as for SAUR that the population and professionals be both involved in and are beneficiaries of this new scheme, which is closely linked to better living and the development of the territory.
Investments related to equipment are not integrated into the DSP and they remain essentially the responsibility of the EEASM through its investment plan. There are four objectives: Improve the performance of the distribution network which still has too many leaks, reduce the rate of unpaid bills that affect the profitability of the sector (monthly meter reading), improve the quality of service in terms of sanitation, and achieve a fair price for water for the consumer.
On the last point, the new pricing structure will result in an approximate 13 per cent reduction on the amount of the water and sanitation bill as of January 1, 2019. In accordance with the will of elected officials, this decrease is particularly beneficial to small consumers who are often the most disadvantaged households, as well as large consumers.
The aim is to reintegrate hotel complexes into the public water service to avoid private production often deployed on the margins of the law, helping to rebalance the economy of water services.
A monitoring of the performance of the DSP will be developed by the delegate over a period of three years and will allow EEASM to assess the quality, cost and sustainability of services in real time and in a transparent manner.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/82709-water-distributor-saur-takes-over-from-generale-des-eaux