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A lack of innovative technologies, political difficulties and a shortage of water supply are among the obstacles faced by Latin America's waterworks industry, according to Shimon Constante, Head of Latin American business development for Luxembourg-based waterworks company Miya.
Join BNamericas in this second part of our two-part interview with the executive.
BNamericas: How would you describe a "smart" water supply or sewerage system?
Constante: From my perspective, a "smart" system isn't merely based on technology like many presume. Smart also means having a sustainable tariff structure, a strong working relationship with the community, long-term planning, and the implementation of strong working procedures.
BNamericas: So how do you feel about the pace of new technologies in the waterworks industry?
Constante: I believe that the water industry is still lagging behind in the process of modernization that various other industries have been going through in the past few years. In many cases, this is due to the fact that a water bill is much less than an electricity or phone bill, for example.
However, as water scarcity continues to be a worldwide challenge and environmental policies become tighter and tighter over time, this will create new opportunities to introduce more sophisticated technologies in the water industry.
I believe that we'll see an increase in the use of business intelligence technologies for the waterworks industry in the next few years. This, along with new technologies to help manage Capex, will help increase overall efficiency in the sector.
BNamericas: In what regions do you see water shortages being a major problem and what solutions do you have for these regions?
Constante: Various regions throughout Latin America are suffering from water shortages, such as the north of Chile, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and Argentina.
The key solution for these areas is to start by building a long-term plan with short-term actions aimed at maximizing efficiency while reducing unnecessary investments.
What we often see is a hope for long-term results through the execution of sporadic activities. Nevertheless, a lack of persistence and long-term planning usually fails to bring high-impact results.
Miya's projects are based on a strong synergy between the interests of the water utility and Miya itself. Through this, we construct a built-to-suit project for each water utility.
This results in high-impact projects with immediate results, which are always aligned with the long-term interests of the utilities.
BNamericas: What affects revenue loss the most when it comes to Latin American water and sewerage services?
Constante: Various regions throughout Latin America don't carry out enough community work and this results in a very low level of bill payments if bills are even sent out at all.
In many cases, it's not just the issue of illegal connections, but rather the inability of water utilities to charge for services due to intense political pressure.
Obviously, a water utility that isn't being paid will find it more difficult to sustain operations and this results in the reduced quality of its assets. This instability impacts Capex even further, bringing on a vicious cycle that reflects on services through water loss rates and the inevitable need to replace leaky pipelines.
Overall, I believe that the most serious issue for water utilities in Latin America is balancing finances.
About Shimon Constante
Based in São Paulo, Shimon Constante leads Miya's business development and sales in Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean.
About the company
Established in 2008, Luxembourg-based Miya, a member of the Shari Arison group, is a firm specializing in the optimization of water systems. Miya, alongside water utilities, designs and implements technology-based solutions to improve operational efficiencies, and specializes in the reduction of non-revenue water.