The loan will be used finance projects involving additional sanitation at various discharge locations, the construction of wastewater treatment works and the laying of strategic rainwater piping to improve the existing infrastructure.
This is EIB’s eighth loan to Aquafin for financing investment in the Flemish region’s wastewater treatment facilities since 1994, bringing its total support in this area to €1.4bn. “Given the difficulty for companies to obtain long-term (30-year) loans from domestic commercial banks in the current financial crisis, this new EIB loan is very important to Aquafin,” said Aquafin chairman Marc van den Abeelen. “Along with the financial support from insurance companies and pension funds, it will enable to us to maintain the same pace of investment as in previous years.”
The efforts of the previous 20 years ensured that, in early September, the Flemish Region was the first Belgian region to comply with the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, which specifies that wastewater from all towns with more than 2,000 inhabitants must be treated before being discharged into a water course. Nowadays 80% of household wastewater in the Flemish Region is treated, compared to barely 30% in the early 1990s, and there is three to five times less pollution in the region’s rivers. This has a clear and measurable biodiversity impact: “The fact that aquatic animals that were previously never or rarely seen are now returning in growing numbers to the region’s waterways is the best indication that biological water quality has dramatically improved” said Aquafin managing director Luc Bossyns. “Now we want to keep up the momentum and meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive, which seeks to achieve good water quality in all streams and rivers.”