The difficulties facing Slovenia as the country struggles to implement EU environmental legislation centre on investment in wastewater treatment infrastructure, Marko Slokar told World Water.

Slovenia’s two million people live in 6000 settlements, scattered over 20,000km2. Slokar says that 15% of the population has secondary treatment, while only 3% has formal primary treatment. 42% of the population rely on septic tanks, while 25% has no treatment.

Nevertheless, Slokar claims that, when work on WwTPs for the country’s three largest cities are taken into account, 60% of the nation’s settlements will be compliant with the UWWTD by the end of 2005.

Lyonnaise des Eaux’ STP in Maribor (pop. 150,000) is scheduled for completion in 2001. The WwTP for the capital, Lubljana (pop 350,000), has entered its second phase. A Slovenian company built the first phase, while the bio treatment and sludge treatment phase is out to tender.

Meanwhile, the WwTP for Celje (pop. 70,000) will be funded out of the 1Bn Euros/ year to be shared out by the European Union among the 10 accession countries during the period 2000 – 2006.

The Slovenian Ministry of the Environment and Physical Planning (MEPP) is also finding it difficult to introduce common regional water supply systems. Slokar says that the mayors of Slovenia’s 192 municipalities would prefer to control their own water supply systems. This, says Slokar, would make it impossible to maintain drinking water quality standards.

In January, Slovenia’s delegation to Brussels took part in a two-month environment screening process. The delegation pressed for an extended transition period, but made it clear that Slovenia itself will be able to raise up to 70% of the necessary capital from domestic taxation and charging.

In total, Slovenia will contribute 1.1Bn Euros for water and wastewater management over the next ten years. This sum will mainly be raised from the country’s Wastewater Tax – which allows municipalities to keep taxes for infrastructure construction if they prepare an investment programme – and charging. Other funding sources include subsidies from MEPP (Slov$1Bn are available for municipalities for infrastructure) and Slov$3.6Bn-worth of soft loans for municipalities. Around a third of this money will be available for WwTP construction.

Slovenia also faces difficult negotiations with farmers over nitrate pollution, particularly in the eastern, agricultural areas of the country. Water quality monitoring conducted by the Slovenian Hydrometerological Institute shows that, in eastern Slovenia, NO3 concentrations range between 11 and 115 mg/l and some pesticide concentrations exceed EU standards for drinking water.

While groundwater quality is relatively good in the western part of the country, the MEPP is in favour of defining the whole territory of Slovenia as nitrate vulnerable zone.

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