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Peru's 50 municipal water utilities (EPSs) are largely falling short of investments, sanitation authority Sunass's president Fernando Momiy Hada said during a presentation of the body's 2012-17 strategy.
"Today, the investment gap in water and sanitation infrastructure of the EPS industry is close to 10bn soles (US$3.9bn), which should go towards improving the water reservoirs, water and wastewater treatment plants, distribution networks and micrometering systems," Momiy Hada said.
Municipally controlled EPSs, which operate in the country's largest urban areas, provide an overall coverage rate for water and sanitation infrastructure of 88.1% and 79.6% respectively - figures in rural areas are much lower.
"This means that, in EPSs' area of influence, as much as 2.1mn people lack access to a potable water network and 3.7mn people are not connected to a sewer network," Momiy Hada added.
Lima's EPS Sedapal, the country's largest one, makes up almost half of the sector investment gap (4.42bn soles), while the remainder concerns the other 49 EPSs scattered across the country.
But it is not only a matter of investment.
The EPSs need more autonomy, modern management practices, better capabilities and salaries and a general economic restructuring so that they can rely on new sources of financing, Momiy Hada also said.
Congress has recently approved a reform aimed at revamping the sector by, among other things, establishing industry watchdog Otass and opening up the EPSs to private investments.
President Ollanta Humala is expected to promulgate the reform in the coming weeks.