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European Union Disburse Funds For Water Management Initiatives In Croatia


The European Commission approved almost 39 million euros in March 2024 in support of Croatia’s local initiatives for upgrading and enhancing wastewater collection and treatment in Velika Gorica, situated a few kilometers south of Zagreb.

This project is part of the 2021–2027 Cohesion Policy Program, which aims to invest 16.9 billion euros in bolstering water accessibility and sustainable water management. Of this total, 13.2 billion euros are given by the European Union, comprising 3% of the overall Cohesion policy funding.

The Velika Gorica project will allow Croatia to meet obligations under the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD). Velika Gorica’s treatment facilities are yet to meet the legal requirements for sewage collection and biological treatment.

In line with the project announcement, these facilities cannot handle existing flows, causing untreated wastewater to be released into a nearby river.

This issue is a national problem, with just 7% of Croatian urban wastewater treated per UWWTD standards, compared to the EU average of 76%. The European Commission took the position that 93% of urban wastewater in Croatia is either not received or does not meet approved biological treatment standards.

The UWWTD, which was adopted in 1991, aims to protect the environment from the adverse effects of wastewater releases from urban sources and specific industries.

Proper treatment of urban wastewater removes organic matter such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and other harmful chemicals. With more than 90% of urban wastewater in the European Union meeting these standards, 10 million Europeans still do not have access to basic sanitation provisions.

Although Croatia should meet its obligations under the directive by 2023, according to their accession treaty, the EU approved a provisional political consensus to review the UWWTD.

This agreement gave newly admitted countries like Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia more time to implement the current directives instead of the new proposal, which began in January 2024. Member States must work on the new directive by December 31, 2035, but the mentioned countries may extend this deadline by up to 12–14 years, depending on specific circumstances.

The Velika Gorica project will serve almost 76,000 residents with 106 kilometers of underground sewerage, 39 pumping stations, and 18 kilometers of pressure sewers. While Croatia still has work to do to fully comply with European Union standards on water collection and treatment, Cohesion funds are providing vital aid to help bridge this gap. 

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