December 14, 2018
Saur is appointed to manage the water supply and wastewater treatment services for the French part of the Caribbean island of Saint-Martin
Saur’s presence in the Caribbean has been strengthened with the award of contracts to supply drinking water and wastewater treatment services for the northern part of Saint-Martin. Following on from the contracts for Saint-Barthélemy and Guadeloupe, this excellent success firmly establishes Saur as a leading water operator in this region. The French overseas community of Saint-Martin made the decision to unify its previous 3 outsourced public service contracts and award the contract to manage this new water service to Saur for a period of ten years, effective from 1 December 2018. The service will be used by 15,000 subscribers, which equates to a total of 35,000 consumers. This island of 53 km² is famously dry, having no watercourse from which water could be easily abstracted. The groundwater resources are not exploited, so supplies of drinking water currently rely entirely on seawater desalination. Climatic risks also demand that detailed consideration is applied to ensuring that the public water supply service is as resilient as possible. With its innovative contract tender, Saur was able to convince the local authority to award it the contract to supply drinking water and manage wastewater services, which were previously handled by another operator. Saur structured its bid around a series of ambitious commitments: • Network hydraulic performance. Network efficiency was 56.7% in 2017, compared with 63.5% in 2016. The reality of this deterioration means that nearly half of all the drinking water produced never reaches the taps of consumers, and is therefore not billed. With an ambitious leak reduction and pipeline replacement programme similar to the one already implemented on Saint-Barthélemy, Saur has given its commitment to improve efficiency by more than 20 points by the end of the contract period, to deliver on a target of 79.6% by 2028. • Treatment plant performance. Saur has proposed a comprehensive diagnostic analysis of the 5,000 m3/day Galisbay desalination plant, which was severely affected by hurricane Irma in September 2017, and to make significant technical improvements. In terms of wastewater treatment, the Saur proposal is to introduce optimised central operational control of six wastewater treatment plants, all of which are located on the coast: four were damaged by Irma, and two - Oyster Pond and Quartier d’Orléans - were entirely destroyed. The new 18,000 population equivalent Quartier d’Orléans plant is due to be officially opened during 2019, as is the Friar’s Bay plant, which will be totally replaced. Very close attention will be paid to the quality of treated water discharged into the sea. • Customer relations performance. Saur has given its commitment to completely overhaul the management of the 15,000 drinking water subscribers and 10,000 wastewater services subscribers, as well as the entire inventory of assets. 7 of its 31 employees will focus exclusively on customer relations, and will staff a customer service point on the island. A significant amount of work will also be done to improve the management of unpaid bills, which is currently running at 20% and therefore puts a significant strain on the profitability of the service. The target is to reduce the level to 5% by 2028 by focusing particularly on helping families in financial difficulty using the Pass’Eau social pricing scheme. Saur will inject a new level of reliability into the collection process and introduce more convenient payment methods via local shops. The introduction of remote metre reading by the end of 2019 will ensure that only actual consumption is billed (monthly readings and quarterly bills), with no more estimates and more frequent bills in response to the needs of aparthotels. At the same time, Saur is committed to promoting local recruitment for future technical administrative jobs, and to working with local service providers, such as subcontractors, non-profit organisations and jobseeker placement schemes. Saur Executive Chairman Louis-Roch Burgard: “On this island still reeling from the passage of the hurricane, our Caribbean-based teams have risen remarkably well to the challenges involved in meeting the needs and expectations of the community and its residents. Their commitment is a powerful demonstration of our ability to manage crises and create bespoke services, as well as to deliver a consistently high quality of service regardless of the locality and its specific circumstances”. Key figures for water supply and wastewater management services on Saint-Martin Water supply: 1 desalination plant (capacity of 9,000 m3 per day) 6 reservoirs (total storage capacity of 16,000 m3), 6 pumping and pressure-boosting stations, 141 km of supply pipelines and 55 km of connections, 15,000 subscribers and 1.3 million m3 of water sold. Wastewater management: 68 km of drainage pipelines (49 km of separate gravity-feed and 19 km of discharge network), 29 pumping stations, 6 treatment plants, 10,000 subscribers, 960,000 m3 of wastewater treated and 4,000 private off-mains wastewater installations.