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Safe water and better sanitation for Romanian consumers

By Olga Rosca

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is helping to provide safe water and improved sanitation for around half a million people in the Romanian counties of Bacău and Maramureș.

The Bank is providing loans of €16.4 million and €10.8 million respectively to the water utility companies in Bacău and Maramureș counties. The former includes a €6.2 million restructuring of an earlier EBRD loan to reflect the company’s transformation into a commercial regional operator.

These loans co-finance comprehensive regional investment programmes of €114.5 million in Bacău and €148.2 million in Maramureș, supported by EU grants as well as funding from the Romanian government and local governments under the EU Cohesion Fund.

The EBRD financing will enable the water firms to improve and expand water supply along with wastewater collection and treatment. It will also help to increase the efficiency and environmental sustainability of these operations. In addition, grant funding from the Spanish government and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund will enable the Bank to engage experts who can provide technical advice to the companies to bring their operations in line with EU directives.

Jean-Patrick Marquet, EBRD Director for Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure said, "Quality of water means quality of life and by investing in improved services from water companies – safe water supply and better sanitation – the EBRD is investing in changing the lives of people in Romania."

The financing is part of the Bank's Regional Cohesion Fund Water Co-Financing Framework for Romania, launched in 2010 and subsequently extended in 2012. It is designed to support around 20 newly-created regional water utilities seeking EU Cohesion Funds. As a result of these investments Romania will be able to meet EU environmental directives, particularly in smaller towns, which would otherwise be difficult to finance on a stand-alone basis.

So far, 15 Romania counties have benefited from EBRD loans under the framework. Residents of Constanţa, Iaşi, Braşov, Buzău, Dâmboviţa-Târgovisţe, Brăila, Sibiu, Timiş, Covasna, Bistriţa, Târgu-Mureş, Galaţi, Satu Mare, Vâlcea and Prahova will have permanent access to safe water and better sanitation after completion of the EBRD co-financed improvements.

Since the start of its operations in the country the EBRD has invested approximately €6.2 billion across over 330 projects in Romania and has further mobilised over €12 billion for these ventures from other sources of financing.

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