Tuesday, September 3, 2013

EU-funded project to improve Romania's water

3 September 2013
SETimes

A two-stage EU funded project meant to tackle the aging sewage treatment infrastructure will significantly change Bucharest's ecological landscape. With Bucharest being the only EU capital still with no fully-fledged waste-water treatment plant, the project is expected to have wide social and ecological effects, environmentalists and officials say.

This summer the European Commission approved an investment of 130 million euros to upgrade the Glina treatment station southeast of Bucharest. The funds are allotted for the first stage of the project that will end in 2015 and which, along the funds allocated by the Romanian government, will see an overall investment of 258 million euros.

The second phase is slated to start in 2014 and include 11 neighbouring areas of the capital. The cost for the six-year project is expected to reach 416 million euros.

Work in the first stage will include extension of Glina treatment plant, construction of a sludge incinerator, the rehabilitation of the sewer collectors, construction of the Dambovita river's right drainage systems and the rehabilitation of the drainage system outlets for Titan, Carol and Tinetetului lakes. The investments will serve more than 2 million people from Bucharest and its neighbouring areas, the EC said in a statement.

Officials hailed the project and the expected effects.

"The negative impact of Bucharest's and the neighbouring towns' wastewater on the environment will be stopped. They will not infest the soil anymore," Remus Cernea, lawmaker of the Green Party, told SETimes.

The current plant treats 50 percent of the wastewater, but the improved plant will increase capacity to 100 percent. "This means the impact on the soil is significant because the wastewater reaches the Dambovita and Arges rivers and then the Danube and finally the Black Sea, hence all the consequences," he said.

The latest statistics by the Romanian Water Management Agency show that in 2007 about 370,000 cubic metres of wastewater spilled in the Dambovita, which crosses Bucharest. Local officials called the waterway a "dead river" and warned the food chain will take at least a quarter century to be restored.

The newly announced project comes as Romania strives to attract funds at the end of the 2007-2013 EU budget. Only 21 percent of the 20 billion euros allotted to Romania have been used by Romania so far, putting the state at risk of losing future disbursements.

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