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7.2 Collection and transfer (Topic b)

In the 10 Accession countries wastewater from 105 million persons is produced annually. Approximately 60% of the total population of the AC10 is connected to sewers and about 50% is connected to wastewater treatment plants (for comparison: in EU around 90% are connected to sewers and about 70% to wastewater treatment plants). In the AC 10, 42% of the wastewater receives treatment before being discharged into surface waters, with most wastewater receiving secondary treatment.

The European Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD), which is an important target for the AC10 to meet European norms and standards (see also 7.3 Treatment), places an obligation on member countries (and future member countries=AC10) to provide collection systems and secondary treatment (biological) for all agglomerations of more than 2000 population equivalents when discharging into freshwater, and all agglomerations of more than 10 000 p.e. discharging into coastal waters. For smaller agglomerations, which are equipped with a collection system the treated discharge has to meet the relevant quality objectives. At present, these objectives are far from being reached in the near future by the AC10. Three possible scenarios were introduced by the European Environment Agency, describing how the AC10 might approach the objectives set out by the UWWDT over the coming years. The 3 scenarios are presented in 7.3 Treatment.

In the European CIS, according to the available data, about 60-70% of the population is connected to treatment plants. In the other transition countries i.e. the Balkan States, a much smaller percentage of the population is connected to sewers and also to treatment plants. There are no data available on the amount of wastewater receiving secondary or even advanced treatment and the quality of the treated wastewater. However, the largest part of the sewage network is quite old, badly maintained and leaks. That leads to groundwater contamination on the one hand and to dilution of wastewater through penetrating groundwater, which increases the wastewater volume in treatment plants on the other hand.

With the general decentralisation of water management, investments as well as operation and maintenance of networks and treatment plants are now carried out at local levels. So at the municipal level basic, sound systems are required, if both construction and operation are not privatised. In all transition countries, many municipalities try to improve their wastewater collection and treatment. However, quite often adequate water supply has priority over wastewater treatment and the limited financial sources are not always strengthened by the government or other national or international sources. Quite often municipalities cannot afford to take out loans to continue constructions or modernisation of treatment facilities.

According to the available data (IEDS; EPRís; ETC/IW, 1998; EEAc, 1998), in the Baltic States, Poland and the Czech Republic more than 70% of the population is served by sewers, which also includes parts of the rural population. The wastewater collected in sewers is not necessarily connected to treatment plants. It is partly discharged directly into surface waters, for example through outfalls into seas, or around cities into rivers. About 50 % of the population in the AC10 is connected to wastewater treatment plants. There are large differences between countries. The degree of connection to treatment plants for the three Baltic countries is high, but this does not necessarily mean that the incoming wastewater is sufficiently treated. In Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia on average half of the population was connected to treatment plants in 1995. Through investments made in the meantime one can suppose that there are more people connected today. For example, in Poland an increase of over 20% is indicated in the period 1990-97 (Polish Stat. Yearbook, 1998).

Table 7.5 shows the population connected to public sewage systems and to wastewater treatment plants for the 10 Accession countries, transition countries and CIS.

Table 7.5: Population connected to public sewage systems and to wastewater treatment plants (in %)


Population connected to sewerage systems Population connected to treatment plants Treatment plants with at least secondary treatment *
  1990 1995 1990 1995 Early 1990's
AC 10
Czech Rep. 72 73 50 56 52
Estonia 75 77     37
Hungary   52 31 32 28
Lithuania   72     29
Romania   47 22   29
Slovakia 51 58   48 45


  44     15
Other Transition Countries
FR Yugoslavia**   35      
Croatia   35 epr      
Belarus     65 70 100***
Rep.of Moldova     56 70 100***
Russian Federation     55   100***
Ukraine     52 60 100***
Source: EEA c,1998; EEA, 1995; UN/ECE IEDS; Polish Statistical Yearbook 1998.
* Data from EEA/ETC/IW, 1998
** Data from WSSCC, 1997
*** In the former Soviet Union all municipal treatment plants have been designed and constructed for secondary treatment. That does not necessarily mean, that all these plants are still in operation, or that they treat the wastewater until national standards.
Note: In the transition countries available, a slight increase of the amount of people connected between 1990-1995 took place, despite the economic recession.

In the other transition countries, representing a population of at least 255.5 million people, of which about 231.5 million live alone in the CIS countries (European part only), the picture is quite different. According to the available data, in the European CIS countries far more than half of the population (between 60-70%) is connected to wastewater treatment plants. This figure is quite high and reflects mainly urban areas. In most rural areas wastewater is discharged untreated or insufficiently treated, with people using on site systems, usually pit latrines. Network systems and treatment plants suffer from overloading and poor maintenance. The situation in Ukraine may serve as an example.

In Ukraine, over 60% of the population is connected to municipal wastewater treatment plants, but in rural areas most wastewater is discharged untreated into surface water. In 1997, about 66% of the existing sewage network was located in urban areas. The sewage network in 1997 was about 46 000 km, of which 22% is in critical condition, 46% of the pump units need replacing and 25% of the installations in treatment plants have exceeded their technical life time (EPR, 1999). According to UN/ECE IEDS data in 1996 about 38% of the generated wastewater received treatment, of which about 40% with secondary treatment.

In Croatia (EPR, 1999) at least 35% of the population is connected to sewer systems, mainly in urban areas. After the war, the reconstruction of the water supply had priority over the sewer network. The downwards trend in the total generation of wastewater in the period 1990-1995 is followed by a slight increase after 1995. The amount of treated wastewater is low (in 1997 only 21%) but has been rising continuously since 1990. In order to support tourist industry along beaches, more than 60% of the population living on the Adriatic Sea is connected to sewer networks.

In Albania, 67% of the population was served by sewers at the end of the 1980s, including 90% of the population living in urban areas and about 50 % of the rural population (EWPCA, 1995). In Tirana, the capital, most households are connected to the sewer system. The total length of the network is 540 km. There is no regular maintenance of the network, only in cases of emergency interventions. The network is old, with extremely frequent breaks, polluting the groundwater (WSSCC, 1997).

In the FR Yugoslavia the collected wastewater comes to 20% from municipalities and to about 80% from industry. The length of the public sewage network is about 10 000 km connecting 35 % of the total population to the public sewage system. In urban areas nearly half of the population is connected (47% in 1993) (WSSCC, 1997).

Combined sewers, for waste and storm water, are the dominant network system. In general, only large cities in most transition countries have separate systems. Most of the stormwater networks discharge directly into surface water, without any treatment. Poland is an exception, here even the majority of the towns have separated systems, of which the stormwater network is mainly not connected to treatment plants.

In Romania, only larger towns have sewer networks, which are combined systems. There are only few exceptions with separate stormwater sewers in big cities along major rivers, where the stormwater is directly discharged into surface water. Smaller cities and villages are not connected to sewer systems (Rojanschi, V., 1999).

In Croatia, the typical sewer system is combined. Only few smaller towns and some bigger cities have separate systems. Industrial wastewater (about 30%) is discharged into the municipal sewage system, often without adequate pre-treatment. (EPR, 1999)

7.2.1 Collection and transfer in Romania

The evolution and development of the sewer system in Romania is closely connected to the water supply system, Table 7.6 (Rojanschi V 1999).

Table 7.6: Water supply and sewage systems in Romania

Type of human settlements   With water supply systems With sewage systems
    No. % No. %
Large cities 262 262 100.0 261 99.6
Rural community centers 2686 1249 46.5 330 12.3
Villages 10390 1045 10.0 16 0.2

Currently, 261 large cities (without Fundulea City) and 346 villages (2.6% out of the total number) are connected to sewer networks. In Braila and Harghita counties no village has a sewage network, and Giurgiu and Ialomita counties have only one a piece. Some 47 of the largest cities, which do not have wastewater treatment plants yet (Bucharest, Braila, Craiova, Turnu Severin Tulcea, etc.) produce around 20 m3/s of wastewater, which is directly discharged untreated into surface water. In the localities without centralised sewage systems, the wastewater will either be collected in water-tight basins with periodical emptying and transfer into wastewater treatment plants, or it will be discharged into individual absorbing drills.

In Romania, most sewer pipes or channels are made from bricks (the old ones), reinforced concrete, or different plastic material (more recent ones).

The amount of wastewater treated to meet national norms is unsatisfactory, so the sewer systems are pollution sources for the surface and ground water. The most frequent contaminants are insoluble inorganic salts and oils.


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