Cleaning up the water in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The EBRD is financing a modern wastewater system to protect the environment and public health.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the water that runs from your tap into the drain at home or into the street gutters? Regardless of where it goes next, whether it flows into the sea or to underwater basins, if it’s not treated to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants, wastewater constitutes a major environmental danger which can ultimately seriously threaten not only biodiversity but also public health.

Until recently the residents of the city of Bijeljina in Bosnia and Herzegovina could not rely on a modern wastewater management system. Instead, used water was flowing in asbestos-cement pipes and was collected in old septic tanks that would occasionally leak untreated wastewater directly to the ground, polluting drinking water sources.

Modern wastewater infrastructure

To avert these risks and provide a service complying with EU standards the EBRD has invested in helping the municipality build a modern wastewater system.

The first phase of the project, supported by a €7 million investment from the EBRD and concluded in 2010, saw the construction of a wastewater collection network and the replacement of unsuitable water pipes.

Sweden provided the technical cooperation funds to assist the municipality with project implementation, including developing a coherent procurement plan and providing procurement training to the staff.

Reaching thousands of households

The second phase of the project is under way. It is dedicated to expanding the sewage network to connect as many residents as possible and to building the wastewater treatment plant.

This phase of the project is supported by the EBRD with a €5 million loan and grant co-financing from the European Union (€6.9 million) and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency or Sida (equivalent of €4 million). Sida is also financing a project engineer to manage field operations and make sure the works are completed on time.

Thanks to this project it is expected that by 2012 up to 4,000 household (about 15,000 people) will be connected to the new wastewater collection system. The reach of the network will continue to grow gradually over the years, providing a safer environment for Bijeljina’s population.

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