The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Flemish wastewater treatment company Aquafin have signed a new loan agreement, this time worth EUR 100 million. It concerns the first tranche of the eleventh framework agreement between the two parties, which has a total value of EUR 200 million. The funds will be used to expand the collection and treatment of waste water in Flanders. Currently slightly over 84% of all waste water in Flanders is collected and treated, partially through this loan facility, that percentage is set to climb further in the coming years.
Apart from a number of smaller projects, Aquafin will build 3 new waste water treatment facilities and expand 5 existing installations, all of which are located at less than 50 km from the North Sea coast. Since the project will result in a significant reduction of untreated rain and waste water reaching the North Sea, the loan contributes to the “Clean Oceans Initiative”. Furthermore, a lot of existing infrastructure will be optimised or replaced, for example with separate sewage for rain- and waste water.
Through this loan, Aquafin also contributes to the EIB’s climate objectives, since 51% of the sub-projects covered under the facility have a direct positive link with regard to climate change. The execution of these project is expected to create 4.700 FTE in employment. The installations that will be built and renovated will treat the waste water more efficiently, leading to a reduction in energy use and CO2-emissions. Energy efficiency measures will be carried out on all connected installations under the project.
Emma Navarro, EIB vice-president responsible for climate commented: “The importance of separate water discharge for the environment is easily underestimated. Due to climate change we can expect more intense and frequent rain, which will put enormous pressure on existing sewers. The EIB is glad that, through the fruitful collaboration with Aquafin, Flemish waste water can be managed separately, which also contributes to the Clean Oceans Initiative.”
“This EIB financing supports Aquafin and Flanders in meeting several objectives,” states Aquafin CEO Jan Goossens. “through a further expansion of the treatment infrastructure, the recovering aquatic fauna in streams and rivers will get a necessary breath of air. In case of heavy rains, the targeted disconnection of rainwater reduces both the risk of flooding and the chance that untreated water flows into surface waters. Furthermore, these decoupling projects stimulate the local re-use of water, which is important in bridging long draught periods. Last but not least, through our side-projects for energy efficiency and the production of renewable power, we give a significant contribution to the Flemish climate targets.”
Since investments have an impact on man, nature and society, the EIB puts great importance on the sustainability of the projects it supports.