Is it water in Tirana drinkable? To foreigners it comes forbidden, while if you are an Albanian, it comes recommended. Few people in Tirana drink water directly from the tap, as most of them trust bottled water, a very profitable business; even it is matter of discussion on the quality of the running water. The authority controlling water in Tirana is UKT and its branches in each city of Albania.
Representatives of UKT Tirana, in their statement acknowledge that the quality of tap water distributed by the operating network is in compliance with all legal and health standards. As such it can normally be consumed by everyone. But foreigners who come to Albania already know very well that tap water quality is not of the required standards, caused by reduced timetables, and its highly amortized distributing system.
The World Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for foreigners traveling to our country because they may be infected with hepatitis A, through water and contaminated food in Albania, regardless of the city they are in. According to the World Bank: “Tap water and distribution infrastructure in Albania is extremely outdated, damaged and inefficient. Network leaks are considerable and the risk to the health of the population is great. ” Meanwhile UKT acknowledges that: “Customers should bear in mind that the water supply company is responsible for the quality of water across the distribution network up to the connection points.” The citizens themselves or the palace administrators should be aware that the maintenance and cleaning of the internal network of homes and personal deposits is their own responsibility.
According to the UKT, the quality of tap water is monitored by the UKT, every day in 16 points distributed throughout the territory of Tirana. This monitoring is performed on five chemical parameters and three bacteriological parameters, which are also the qualitative indicators of tap water. Also 23 points are monitored every day for the residual chlorine, which serves as a disinfectant and does not allow water contamination during distribution throughout the network. Continuous checks are also carried out at water deposits in the city as well as in pumping stations for chemical and bacteriological parameters. On the other hand, the State Sanitary Inspectorate (ISSH) carries out monitoring and control at 31 points in the city’s deposits, accumulation tanks of pumping stations and in water distribution tanks. Also the UKT analyzes water samples brought by citizens in every case of complaint. The service areas of the UKT sh.a. are the Municipalities of Tirana, Kamza, Vora. Areas Prezë, Farkë, Petrelë, Krrabë, Dajt, Krzulë, Baldushk, Vaqarr, Zall-Herr, Pezë, Kashar, Ndroq, Paskuqan. Operator services are: distribution of tap water; installation of meters; installing a network connection; network update; removal of polluted waters; selling water to the world; and supplying water to HEC Lanabregas.
Tap water consumers in Tirana currently pay 45 lek per cubic meter of water. But this only for the service provided by the water supply and sewerage, as the costs of a family for water supply are estimated to be around 4148 lek per month. This is also taken into account in the Water Regulatory Organ report submitted at the Parliament in 2016, which refers to INSTAT data. The report states that consumers are required to pay for water supply and sewerage services. The report does not mention additional costs such as buying individual deposits and pumps, electricity costs from pumps, buying bottled water, etc., which annually reach 10,000-20,000 lek.
Meanwhile, with the suggestion of the Municipality of Tirana for the increase of the price by 20 lek, it is claimed that although the water price will increase, the monthly expenses will decrease from 4148 lekë to 936 lekë. So four times less, as there will be tap water 24/7 and will not need deposits or other expenses. Since taking over the positions in the Municipality of Tirana, in 2015, the owners pledged to remove flat-rate bills, the Fresku area, Dajt commune or other areas of Tirana continue to apply flat-rate billing.
So, with more than two years in office and despite the commitment to remove flat-rate bills, we continue to operate through them. With the increase in the price of water, who assures the citizens of Tirana on 24 hours of water per day as is also claimed by the Municipality of Tirana? In the business plan of the Municipality of Tirana is foreseen that 145 million euros will be invested in the increase of water resources, water processing and filtration, the transmission and sewerage system. Only the interventions with the relevant values are given out of this municipality, but no information on where all this money will come from. Such investments are important for the quantity and quality of tap water in the city of Tirana, but it remains to be seen when these investments will be realized and to what extent.
Citizens pay: they have paid for the water supply system from the UKT by setting up collective or personal pumps, pay for the maintenance of these pumps, pay for electricity. At the initiative of the Municipality of Tirana, when the water comes 24 hours a day all the deposits placed will be removed, where again will be separate costs. Not to mention the new constructions, which when they realized the construction projects of the palaces, made a single connection with the water supply network and this connection sends the water to the deposits placed on the first floors of the palaces. If there will ever really be 24 hours a day of water, citizens have to pay for direct connection to the water supply network, the consumer meter as well as the new water price.
The customer is always right: in the case of rising water prices it would be more acceptable to carry out investments first; then for the quality and quantity of water that the UKT network would offer, the Municipality of Tirana would increase the water price.
In the current year, UKT invoices only 20% of the water it sells. Meanwhile, the water price from 20 lek/m3 that was in 2000 goes to 65 lek/m3 in 2017. With the frequent increase over 17 years, the tap water distribution system continues to be amortized, with significant losses in distribution, pollution etc. Let’s hope that with the last 20 lek increase, after 5 years we will have the luxury of 24 hours supply of tap water and in compliance with the standards.