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News: Zagreb wastewater treatment plant - Case summary, 15.05.2005

The Zagreb Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWWTP), which is currently under construction, is supposed to address the fact that Zagreb currently has no wastewater treatment facilities for its 900,000 inhabitants, and wastewater passes directly into the Sava River.
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The Zagreb Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (CWWTP), which is currently under construction, is supposed to address the fact that Zagreb currently has no wastewater treatment facilities for its 900,000 inhabitants, and wastewater passes directly into the Sava River. The project, initially worth 320 000 000 Euros, is funded by the EBRD, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the City of Zagreb and internally generated funds, with the EBRD providing around 55 000 000 Euros. Improving water quality in the Sava is a laudable goal, but despite being heralded by the EBRD as a flagship environmental project, the CWWTP is a costly fraud for the inhabitants of Zagreb:

  • Household water bills in the Zagreb area have doubled in order to pay for the CWWTP, and industry bills have also risen substantially. Several companies are currently refusing to pay their increased bills.
  • The expert commission appointed to examine the project before it was approved by the City Council stated that is “totally unsuitable for the current state of the sewage system and drainage conditions of Zagreb” and indicated that it will not lead to the improvements expected, but was ignored by the City Council.
  • The wastewater in Zagreb is mixed with stream water from the nearby mountain Medvednica and is therefore subject to extreme fluctuation in volume and pollution levels. The quality of the water in the Sava has improved greatly since the demise of much of Croatia’s industry during the 1990s, but high pollution levels occur with high rainfall levels. However, the CWWTP cannot cope with such fluctuation in volume and is designed to let wastewater above a certain volume bypass the plant. Therefore most of the water (and therefore pollution) will go straight into the Sava as before
  • Due to mixing with stream water, Zagreb’s wastewater is too diluted to allow the biological element of the CWWTP to work properly.
  • The wastewater plant will only clean water to a fractionally better standard, if at all.
  • Members of the expert commission proposed a mechanical treatment plant, which was estimated to be ten times cheaper than the CWWTP, but were ignored.
  • The CWWTP will result in large amounts of sludge, but the project includes only for storage and not its disposal, instead relying on a controversial incinerator which has not been built yet. The only other incinerator built in Zagreb, PUTO, was blamed by local residents for serious health complaints and the failure of fruit trees to produce fruit, and after repeated health and safety violations including at least two fires, was finally closed in 2002. Residents have no reason to believe that the new incinerator will be any better.

The construction and operation if the plant is being carried out by Zagreba─Źke Otpadne Vode (ZOV), which is 97 per cent owned by a consortium consisting of RWE Aqua GmbH, a subsidiary of Thames Water Aqua Holding GmbH, and WTE Wassertechnik, a subsidiary of EVN AG, with the remaining 3 per cent owned by the City of Zagreb. These are likely to be the only beneficiaries from a project which should never have been approved.

Click here (PDF on the Bankwatch site) to read the whole case study.


Author: Green Action

15.05.05. 03:00