BULGARIAN ECOLOGY ALSO WAITS FOR EU MONEY
EUR1BN could be invested in the environment over the first three years after Bulgaria joins the European Union (EU), Minister of Environment and Waters Dolores Arsenova said on Tuesday (May 17) during the opening of the the third international business forum Investments in the Environment for a Better Quality of Life, held in Sofia in the context of the World Environment Day. Financing is expected from the EU structural funds, from its Cohesion fund, and from national co-financing. The money will be invested in the construction of communal infrastructure, to be used not only by the population, but by economic entities as well, Ms. Arsenova specified. That means - for the improvement of the water and sewage network and the construction of water treatment stations. The BANKER weekly has repeatedly warned about the pitiful state of the sector. The more than 200 participants in the event also know that. Only 277 of the population centres in the country (167 of which are towns) have entirely or partially constructed sewerage network. According to the commitments Bulgaria has taken under the Ecology negotiations chapter, all towns with more than 10,000 citizens should have sewerage networks and water treatment stations by the end of 2010, and settlements with population exceeding 2,000 should meet those requirements till end-2014. In other words, some 430 utilities are to be built within the next ten years. The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works pre-estimates the necessary funds for that at BGN2.2BN-plus. They will be ensured by the EU's ISPA and SAPARD programmes, and the national budget.But now the situation is not rosy at all. There are only five new purifying stations under construction and projects for other six are still to be approved by the European Commission. There is a certain delay indeed, as there are 70 towns with population over 10,000, Deputy Minister of Environment Nikola Kuyumdzhiev admitted to the BANKER weekly.Things look even darker considering the regulatory framework of the sector. According to the act on regulation of the water supply and sewerage services adopted last year, an additional department had to be established with the State Energy Regulation Commission at the beginning of January. The department had to monitor the prices and quality of services offered by water supply companies across the country. Five months later no water regulator has been established yet. According to well-informed sources, the reason is the furious battle that has been led for the six commissioners posts - for each post there have been 20 applicants.The only good news comes from the twelve initiated projects of joint implementation under the Kyoto protocol. The projects will reduce the industrial damaging emissions into the atmosphere by 13 million tons of carbon dioxide.