Improving Water & Wastewater Treatment in Subotica in Serbia
EBRD, EU and bilateral donors help a Serbian city modernise its water infrastructure. Subotica was one of the first cities in Serbia to build a
EBRD, EU and bilateral donors help a Serbian city modernise its water infrastructure. Subotica was one of the first cities in Serbia to build a wastewater treatment plant almost 50 years ago. and is still one of the few cities in Serbia with proper wastewater infrastructure. Less than 10 per cent of the country’s wastewater is treated and remedying this is expected to be one of the most critical and challenging areas of investment for Serbia as it advances its integration into the European Union.
Subotica started work on its environmental infrastructure in the 1970s, when the city’s growing industrial activity started to threaten nearby Lake Palić. There was no system for collecting wastewater from the industrial facilities, so the effluent leaked directly into the lake, harming its biodiversity. The city’s decision to build a wastewater treatment plant helped prevent further pollution in the two decades that followed. It was not a permanent solution, however.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EU and the bilateral donors of the Western Balkans Investment Framework have been supporting Subotica’s efforts since 2006, when it started to modernise its original treatment plant and construct a sludge line. The city then continued to upgrade its network by extending its sewerage network and constructing collectors and additional water pipelines, among other things.
The upgrade helped to improve the quality of Subotica’s wastewater disposal and treatment services. It also allowed the city to connect another 12,000 of its 140,000 citizens to the sewerage network, bringing coverage to 60 per cent of inhabitants. In addition, the new wastewater plant has the technological capacity to produce energy from waste and currently produces 25 to 40 per cent of its own energy needs.
The city continued to invest in its water services and, in December 2020, opened a new drinking-water treatment plant.