A Tirana court ruled on Monday that water supplied in Tirana during 2016 and 2017 was not fit to drink and that municipality’s water provider used unaccredited laboratories to run their tests.
The news was announced on Monday by civil society organizations Res Publica and Impetus who brought a case before the Administrative Court of the First Instance against water provider UKT in 2017. They forced the water provider to carry out water analysis to guarantee the quality of drinking water in the city, as per the standards defined by a decision from the Council of Ministers.
The court ruled that laboratory results demonstrated that the water provided by UKT did not respect the parameters necessary for water fit for human consumption.
Both organizations said that analysis carried out by UKT was not fit for purpose as both the chemical and microbiological tests were performed by an unaccredited laboratory. Therefore, they called for further testing.
These tests revealed levels of e-coli, fecal streptococci, and chlorine above acceptable levels.
The court also ordered UKT to properly monitor and analyze drinking water in the city and to send the results to the Institute of Public Health to determine whether it is safe, or what action should be taken to improve it. UKT must also periodically report to Res Publica and Impetus with all the results and measures taken to improve the quality of water.
Lawyer at Res Publica Dorian Matlija said:
“We have a court decision which formally acknowledges the drinking water isn’t up to the right standards in Tirana and it’s likely that this is still the case today.”
He also stated that he hopes that the ruling will improve the situation regarding drinking water in Tirana, as well as facilitate better decision-making in the future.
UKT found itself in hot waters last week when it was revealed that they ran into issues with licensing last year due to non-compliance with basic hygienic and sanitary conditions.
The Water Regulatory Authority published their annual report in which they noted that the company was not providing adequate services in large swathes of the area including Baldushk, Peza, Fark, and Berzhite.
UKT claims that it analyzes water quality on a constant basis but there is no publicly available information on the results and as Res Publica has claimed, the labs used are not official in any capacity.
A number of areas and treatment plants do not meet the basic legal or hygienic standards for licensing and some are operating without the proper permissions.