Competitive Grant 4:

Process Benchmarking of WSSCs in Bulgaria

Bulgaria - Bulgarian Water Association (BWA)


Description of the activity

This competitive grant project was a partnership between the Bulgarian Water Association (BWA) and the Danube Water Program. Its aims were to establish a routine of utility benchmarking in Bulgaria, and to conduct two benchmarking cycles for data from 2013 and 2014. Activities started in January 2014 and were finished in October 2015.

Implementation of the activity

The Bulgarian Water Association is pushing for an improvement of the services provided by water supply and sanitation companies (WSSCs) in the country. To this end, it offers utilities the opportunity to participate in a voluntary benchmarking program, where they can learn from best practices and get assistance in changing the way they operate. Focus areas are supply network management, energy efficiency, good engineering practices, customer service and management practices.

Reflecting the project aims, the work program was conducted in two cycles. Work on 2013 data started with establishing the administrative capacities to manage the project. BWA hired a project coordinator and an expert in data collection to facilitate the process, and translated the European Benchmarking Cooperation’s (EBC) methodology into Bulgarian. Together with his peers from other hubs, the coordinator participated in an EBC training workshop in The Hague, Netherlands.

The project team agreed with the utility companies of Burgas and Vidin to become pilot enterprises in the country. After a test run with these two partners in spring 2014, the project expanded to cover twelve utilities in the project’s first cycle. BWA collected and analyzed their performance data, and prepared individual reports for each of them. The project team entered the data into EBC’s database to allow comparison with utilities outside Bulgaria. In December 2014, the participating utilities met for a workshop where they discussed common problems such as water loss. Representatives of several Bulgarian utilities also joined the March 2015 meeting of the Ex-Yugoslavia benchmarking hub to exchange experiences.

The project’s second cycle started with a meeting in Sofia. Based on experience gained in the first cycle, the methodology was refined further. Data collection for 2014 took two months and ended on 31 July 2015. Three additional utilities joined for the second benchmarking cycle, with another two possibly joining in the near future. BWA has been cooperating closely with the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works to ensure support for the benchmarking effort.

Challenges and lessons learned

Bulgarian utilities currently find themselves in the challenging situation of having to fulfil a range of requirements introduced in a broad water sector reform. Many utilities need to catch up on establishing registers and records of their assets, at times leaving little capacity for additional projects such as the DWP benchmarking program. Furthermore, some utilities might yet have to grasp in its entirety the concept of benchmarking, which does not end with data collection but instead feeds lessons learned back into operational practices to achieve improvements.


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Related Program Activities



Related Events

Danube Water Conference
    7-8 May 2015, Vienna, Austria

Ex-YU Benchmarking Workshop
    18-20 March 2015, Belgrade

Utility Benchmarking Training
    12-13 May 2014, The Hague,
    The Netherlands


Related Documents

Bulaqua 1/2015 - On the March 2015 Int. Benchmarking Meeting (BG & EN)

Bulaqua 4/2014 - On the Competitive Grant Project (BG & EN)