Four values guide us every day as we roll out our mission and live up to our commitments.
Delivering quality water to nearly 2.5 million people is a daily challenge that requires a strong public company with a solid financial structure.
Without creativity there is no innovation. We encourage boldness and imagination at the service of continuous improvement. The development of collective intelligence is stimulated and solution-oriented attitudes are promoted.
Providing our customers with an easy, reliable and consistent experience over and beyond the guarantee of a quality water supply.
Generating a climate conducive to efficiency, performance and well-being in line with our duty of care. Trust paves the way for a culture of accountability.
We see water as a common good and not as a commodity. We aim to maintain an overall financial balance, charging for the service we provide at cost price. This ambition is underpinned by several pillars that we aim to shore up in the long term
1. Water quality: a priority
As public health stakeholders, we have a duty to provide safe tap water. This is why we are committed to providing water of impeccable quality, with a compliance rate of over 99% (in accordance with Walloon compliance standards). This is a major challenge given the amount of water we produce each year.
Our production and supply teams are supported by the scientists and technicians at our Fleurus laboratory, who provide round-the-clock monitoring, analysing over 30,000 samples taken each year from all parts of the network.
2. Securing supply throughout Wallonia
By taking on the mission entrusted to us by the Walloon government to coordinate the implementation of the Regional Water Resources Plan (RWRS), we are committed, with our partners, to guaranteeing a water supply to all Walloons at all times, wherever they may be and whatever the season.
This large-scale programme includes a dozen major projects which are expected to be completed by 2027.
Since the end of 2019, we have also been committed to analysing the best way to anticipate and respond to the specific water needs of farmers, who are very sensitive to recurring droughts, but also of industrialists and tourism professionals. Demographic change and urban development have an impact on the activities of these two sectors.
3. Quality customer service
More than 1,000,000 meters are connected to our supply network. Behind each meter there is a customer and several consumers. Their satisfaction is our mission.
To satisfy you, in addition to the quality of the water supplied, we do everything possible to guarantee a static pressure of between 2 and 10 bar at the meter, as well as an acceptable flow rate of at least 300 litres per hour.
In the event of a problem, our technical teams are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Out of hours, weekends and holidays, they respond according to the seriousness and urgency of the problem.
4. An affordable price
We are committed to ensuring that the portion of the water bill related to the production and supply of drinking water (True Cost of Supply - CVD) does not exceed 0.7% of the average income of Walloon households.
We have achieved the feat of not increasing the true-cost of supply between September 2014 and December 2022.
Société wallonne des eaux (SWDE) is an autonomous public company, set up in the form of a cooperative society.
Its public service activities are defined by the Water Code and mainly concern three areas:
- water production (catchment, pumping and treatment)
- the supply of drinking water through pipelines
- the protection of water resources intended for human consumption
The SWDE has its headquarters in Verviers.
Cholera epidemics were a powerful trigger. Water supply played a key role in a vast public hygiene campaign (wastewater disposal, demolition of slum districts, etc.).
The consumption behaviour of Belgians
19th century → 2000s
In the middle of the 19th century, the first piped water systems appeared.
Gradually, the infrastructure was developed and cities began to have their own water utilities.
In 1913, the State created SNDE (Société nationale des distributions d'eau) to help municipalities with limited resources.
Over the years, the country gradually built up water supply networks and production facilities (e.g. dams).
In 1986, water policy was entrusted to the regions. SNDE was divided into two parts. In Flanders, VMW (Vlaamse Maatschappij voor Watervoorziening) was founded. In the south of the country, the Walloon Region set up Société wallonne des distributions d’eau.
In early 2001, the name was shortened to SWDE (Société wallonne des eaux). This new name coincided with a change in status, making SWDE an autonomous public company. We are bound to the Region by a management contract which is renewable periodically.
Today, we are the largest drinking water production and supply company in Wallonia. Our supply network extends over 40,000 km. It covers almost 200 municipalities and has more than one million connections. We supply nearly 2.5 million consumers with drinking water, i.e. more than 70% of the Walloon population.
Our governance system is based on our organic decree and statutes, on the one hand, and on Walloon governance legislation, on the other.
We have taken note of the recommendations issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the European Union, the Belgian State, as well as the Belgian Code of Corporate Governance.
This has helped us to establish a Corporate Governance Charter, in a spirit of transparency and in full compliance with our values of performance, customer satisfaction, creativity and trust.
The main features of our governance model are as follows:
- a Board of Directors which defines the general policy and strategy and oversees operational management;
- the creation by the Board of Directors of an Audit Committee, a Remuneration Committee and a Strategy Committee;
- a Management Committee with responsibility for operational management.
This means that our activities are carried out by our managers and staff, under the guidance of the Management Board, with the strategic support and active supervision of the Board of Directors.
SWDE is an autonomous public company, incorporated as a cooperative society. The Walloon authorities and the Water Code define and organise the legal rules and conditions through which SWDE carries out its activities.
Our shareholding is public and consists mainly of municipalities. However, we are not an intermunicipal company.
Our share capital is held by 207 municipalities, 10 intermunicipal companies, 4 Walloon provinces, the Walloon Region and the Public Water Management Company.
We supply water to around 2,500,000 people and have almost 1,100,000 customers.
To meet our commitments and to achieve our public service objectives, we have set up a specific structure in the form of a cooperative company linked to the Walloon Region by a management contract.
Our share capital is held by 207 municipalities, 12 intermunicipal companies, 4 Walloon provinces, the Walloon Region and the Public Water Management Company.
Our internal structure is organised around different processes:
Interesting fact: We supply water to some 2,500,000 people and have almost 1,100,000 customers.