ICMA International / Services / Expertise & Capabilities / Water & Sanitation Services

Water and Sanitation Services

A well-designed, well-managed water system couples excellence in the technical arena – public works, engineering, and biology – with the best management, maintenance, and distribution system to ensure that customers have consistent, reliable access to a high-quality product. An efficient, effective service delivery system includes conservation efforts on both the supply and demand sides and takes advantage of cost-effective technologies and management practices to ensure that the cost of water is as low as possible for the customer.

ICMA has broad capacity in plant management, financing, equipment procurement, billing, privatization, water conservation, and the range of skills needed to identify and implement appropriate solutions in these areas. In its international programs, ICMA has:

  • Completed water studies
  • Conducted customer service surveys
  • Performed water quality testing
  • Assessed and improved water distribution systems
  • Helped design cost recovery schemes. 

To carry out these projects, we have worked with local governments, water companies, and national governments to improve and enhance water services in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Drawing on the extensive hands-on experience of ICMA members, staff, and consultants, we have worked with our peers worldwide to find practical solutions to their water management problems.

Water Quality
Access to clean, drinkable water is a fundamental human need, and providing it is a basic public service. In many localities around the world, poor service delivery and limited access to appropriate water leave millions scrambling for their daily survival. With populations in urban areas throughout the world growing, water service delivery becomes an increasingly important issue to protect the health and welfare of the community at large. Here are examples of ICMA’s work helping cities improve water quality:

  • The public water supplies in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, India, were improved by installing chlorinators to decrease fecal coliform and E. Coli contamination. These and other improvements resulted in increased access to pure drinking water for more than 65,000 beneficiaries.
  • In Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, ICMA implemented maintenance measures to reduce the possibility of pollution entering the elevated potable water storage tanks.  The city switched from polyethylene material to aluminum for all new and repaired domestic connections.
  • ICMA helped improve the operation and the quality of outflow from the water treatment plant in San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico; as a result, the city started a program to document and track the staff’s maintenance activities in the water treatment plant and the pump sites.
  • With ICMA assistance, the city of Sayula, Mexico, cleaned up its pump stations and water storage tank sites and eliminated the use of petroleum-based oil in the water pumps, converting all pumps to using vegetable oil.
  • When the city of Nis, Serbia, sought to improve the quality of water coming from the local river, its partner city, Columbus, Ohio, donated a hydrocarbon detection sensor, helped install it in the river basin, and provided training in its operation.

Water Service Delivery Management
Efficient and reliable delivery of water services requires ready water sources, sound infrastructure, a capable workforce, and rigorous management and budgetary practices. ICMA has worked with cities worldwide to troubleshoot failing systems, introduce improvements, train personnel, and put management systems in place.

  • ICMA worked to ensure a sustainable water supply system in Afghanistan by helping to restore the existing systems and to assess, plan, design, and implement improvements in infrastructure, customer service, preventive maintenance, inventory management, financial management, and billing and collections--all of which contributed to improvements in cost recovery. Improved systems were complemented by training for those who operate and maintain the water supply system.
  • ICMA developed and delivered a course, “Cities Matter: Energy Efficiency in the Water Sector,” in Latin America and Asia. The five-day course included energy efficiency techniques coupled with tools for management, operations, and decision making at the local and state level. Representatives from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Mexico, India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines participated.
  • In Mexico, ICMA worked with rural municipalities to improve materials used to correct water leakages and keep better records of leaks in the water distribution network to help them plan more effectively for future capital investments, implement maintenance measures to reduce the possibility of pollution entering potable water storage tanks, and improve the operation and the quality of outflow from water treatment plants.
  • A partnership between Solok, West Sumatra, and Gresham, Oregon, focused on the development of a rate structure for water services, development of the city’s own water source, and analysis of the water distribution system.
  • In an ICMA partnership, Columbus, Ohio, helped Nis, Serbia, reduce water loss in the pipelines and tap into new supply sources. Columbus partners identified software for groundwater modeling that it donated to Nis to help the city identify alternative water sources.