Half of the projects are located in eastern Slovakia, which is structurally weak and where only half of all households were connected to the sewerage system when the enlargement contribution to Slovakia was launched in 2008. Besides an affordable wastewater infrastructure, the projects aim to strengthen the capacities of local authorities and to raise public awareness of environmental issues. Improved public services are in turn expected to further the sustainable socio-economic development of structurally weak municipalities.
After delays due to protracted tendering procedures, construction work is under way in all six projects. Before the onset of winter this year construction work on several wastewater treatment plants had begun and one fifth of the planned sewers had already been laid.
On-site visits indicate that the work carried out to date meets high quality standards. The residents of the municipalities benefiting from the projects look forward to the completion of the sewerage systems, expected to take place in 2016, not least because the current wastewater collection system, which involves septic tanks in some places, is both inconvenient and expensive.
The negotiations currently under way on the thematic breakdown of the enlargement contribution for Croatia show that there is also considerable need for action in Croatia in the areas of water supply and wastewater treatment. At present, only 44% of households are connected to the public sewerage system. In Slovakia wastewater is mostly collected in septic tanks. Indications are that Switzerland could apply the positive experience acquired in the wastewater sector in Slovakia to the implementation of the CHF 45 million enlargement contribution for Croatia which was decided by Parliament in December 2014.