Illustrative photo, via iStock

PVK: Climate change is causing more water outages in Prague

Prague is experiencing more water outages due to extended heat and drought
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Prague is experiencing more outages of its water supply. Extended heat and drought due to climate change is a key reason, as it damages underground pipes. Last year, the number of outage incidents exceeded 5,000 for the first time, and so far this year is on track to be even higher.

The Prague Water Supply and Sewerage System (PVK) has registered 2,992 incidents so far in 2019 until the end of July. In the first seven months of this year, almost 200 more have water failures occurred compared to the same period last year, according to a PVK press release.

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PVK spokesman Tomáš Mrázek said the high number is due to climatic conditions. “Long-term heat and drought, like long-term frosts, cause soil pressure to increase on the buried pipelines and thus damages them,” Mrázek explained.

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The exact location of the damage can’t be predicted in advance, and little can be done to prevent it.

Category I incidents, where more than 1,000 customers or strategic buildings are without water, so far this year has reached 45, while last year there were 26 in the first seven months

Information on incidents can be monitored by customers on the PVK website in the section “havárie.” Information in Czech includes when the situation should be resolved and where water trucks are located, if any. The expected impact on the supply of drinking water is listed. Outages can also be reported over the same website.

Podolí waterworks. via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 3.0

People can also get free informational SMS messages to alert them of problems in their area. These messages can be activated online, from a customer service line or in person at a PVK office.

People with certified disabilities can get water delivered during an outage from either the PVK or the Red Cross. The project has been in place since 2015, and is available in Prague 2, Prague 3, Prague 4, Prague 5, Prague 6, Prague 7, Prague 8, Prague 12, Prague. 13, Prague 14, Prague 15, Prague 16, Prague 20, Prague 22 and Březiněves. It is available if an outage lasts more than five hours.

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The packaged water in sealed bags comes from the Káraný waterworks. Containers of 100 two-liter bags are tracked with GPS chips from production to delivery,

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People who are not eligible for delivery have to go to trucks, with their own buckets of bottles.

Separately, the Želivka water plant is being renovated with a new state-of-the-art filtration system. It supplies not only Prague but Central Bohemia and part of the Vysočina region. During the renovation, the plant will supply only 1,000 liters per second instead of the normal 3,000 liters per second.

The output will be supplemented by water from the Káraný waterworks. If needed, the Podolí waterworks may also be used. It ceased operation in 2002 after the floods. Water from Podolí was used again in 2011 and ’16, when there was also construction at Želivka. Podolí relies on old technology, and its operation costs more than modern plants. The plant is a registered landmark.

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Water from Podolí comes from the Vltava river. State public health officials say that after purification it meets all acceptable standards. Some other experts, though, say the quality is more variable than water from other plants.

PVK supplies water to 1.3 million inhabitants of Prague and 206,000 inhabitants of the Central Bohemia region. The length of the water supply network, including connections, is 4,402 kilometers.

PVK invests about 1 billion CZK in its renewal annually. The Prague Water Management Company (Pražská vodohospodářská), which is the owner of the system, puts another 2.2 billion CZK into maintenance. It is a joint stock company owned by the capital.

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