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  • Dear Readers!

    There is good cause for celebration! 30 years of a unified Germany. Or perhaps we should say: ‘30 years of working on a unified Germany’? Seen from a historical perspective, it is certainly true to say that the reunification process has not yet been completed. In fact, looking at Germany’s history, you might well be excused for thinking that this process will never be completed. Each individual region has its own cultural peculiarities, its own dialect, its own sensibilities, its own breed of people. And, of course, their traditional dishes are worlds apart from each other. But that’s the way it should be as it is the differences that create a strong dynamic for change and enrich our culture and economy. Having said all that, we are still quite a young nation. Germany really hasn’t been around that long. Our country – as a federation of states – did not come into being until almost 100 years after the United States of America was founded. And we are all well aware that they are still working hard on unifying their nation.

    We are very grateful that our family-run business has been able to play a constructive role in shaping the reunification process from the start. While criticism continues to be directed towards the Treuhand (the agency responsible for privatising the former East German enterprises) for the way it acted – its focus was often on processing rather than developing – our aim has always been on finding robust, future-oriented solutions by working closely on the ground with the different city and regional authorities. The results speak for themselves – whether it be in the Lausitz region where our public private joint venture WAL Betrieb provides water management services and has kept fees and charges stable and jobs secure for decades now despite the region’s declining population; or in Schwerin, where the public private partnership between the city and REMONDIS has been hugely successful at delivering key services cost effectively. And these are just two examples of many. It was – and continues to be – the amazing personal dedication of the company’s employees in the regions that made it possible for REMONDIS to become a local east German family-run business in these new areas after the wall fell. What’s more, some of the family moved from the Westphalian town of Selm to make their home in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – but this just as a side note. Unity requires active commitment, as does sustainable development. REMONDIS is dedicated to both, always working with the future in mind.

    One thing is certain: there are a lot of things still – or once again – to be done. The recession brought on by Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on the finances of local authorities. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the cities and districts faced a shortfall of 9.7 billion euros in the first six months of this year. As a comparison: the deficit amounted to just 0.3 billion euros a year ago. The reason for this negative trend was the drastic fall in revenue received by local governments in the second quarter of 2020. The German economy nosedived by 9.7% between April and June – the first time it has ever had to face such a huge drop. Yet another reason then for thinking about how the pressure can be taken off local governments in the future. They don’t have to do everything by themselves – the private sector is happy to help. Public private partnerships are a robust solution for delivering cost-intensive essential services, such as waste management and water management tasks. I and Professor Michael Schäfer, retired professor of public sector economics at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, illustrate this very clearly with the help of many examples in one of the books we co-authored – and we don’t forget to mention the negative examples either. As everyone knows, people learn from their mistakes so they can do a better job in the future. And this is precisely what we are doing together with our friends and partners in the not so new states in the east of Germany, in Europe and across the world.

    We hope you enjoy reading this latest issue. Stay safe!

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

A tourist highlight

  • Water is one of the elements that people in Schwerin most often come across. This beautiful town – the capital city of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – lies on the second-largest lake in north Germany and attracts many tourists every year. With summers getting warmer and longer, the local authorities recently decided to install new drinking fountains in the centre of its city.

Modern stainless steel fountains

  • People out shopping, jogging around the Pfaffenteich or on a sightseeing trip around the town now have an additional way to fill up their water bottles. The water company, Wasserversorgungs- und Abwasserentsorgungsgesellschaft (WAG), a successful partnership between the city authority’s utilities company Stadtwerke Schwerin and REMONDIS Aqua’s subsidiary EURAWASSER, has now installed two further public drinking fountains. Located in the busiest areas of the town, these two modern stainless steel fountains and an older historical fountain supply drinking water to all who need it. This service will not only benefit the people walking around the city on a hot summer’s day. This high quality tap water is also a resource-friendly alternative to buying bottled water. “It is one of the most strictly controlled foodstuffs, saves money and reduces volumes of waste – especially plastic bottles,” explained WAG managing director Hanno Nispel.

    The Pfaffenteich Armoury: you are never far from water in Schwerin – indeed, it is one of the city’s main features

A successful collaboration since 2003

Having installed the drinking fountains, WAG is now responsible for operating and maintaining them. Just one of its many tasks – as this service provider is also in charge of supplying top quality and environmentally friendly drinking water across the city and to the twelve districts belonging to the Schweriner Umland water association. Moreover, WAG also manages the town’s wastewater operations. To be able to deliver all these services, this public private joint venture employs 87 people and runs two waterworks, four pressure booster stations, a sewage treatment plant and almost 400 wastewater pumping stations as well as all the pipes across the networks.

Dedicated to education

  • It is hardly surprising that sustainable development is of central importance to a “water business” – and not just when it comes to its workforce, technology and operations. A look at WAG’s ‘Sustainable Development Principles’ shows that the company is committed to “sustainably protecting water both as a natural habitat and as a vital resource for our and all future generations”. And so it also stands to reason that WAG is involved in educational campaigns: it runs its own drinking water educational trail, visits schools to teach children all about the importance of water and supports local grassroots sports clubs.

    • “Pulling” their first glass of water from the new drinking fountain close to Schwerin’s Pfaffenteich (from left to right): Mayor of Schwerin Dr Rico Badenschier, WAG Managing Directors Hanno Nispel and Petra Beyer, City Leader Sebastian Ehlers and Gert Rudolf, Chair of the town council’s CDU/FDP parliamentary party

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