TALLINN - The Estonian Ministry of the Environment is holding an international online seminar in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to discuss how to ensure the sustainability of water supply and sanitation services in the next few years.
Due to a significant reduction in state support, the water management sector is facing difficult challenges, spokespeople for the ministry said.
"It goes without saying for Estonian people that public water supply and sanitation services must be available. While much has been done, the current quality of water services has largely been achieved with the help of support. At the same time, the sector is facing an increasing number of new challenges, such as boosting resource efficiency and preventing dangerous substances, such as pharmaceutical residues, from ending up in the aquatic environment," Harry Liiv, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of the Environment, said, adding that in the future, issues will need to be resolved without EU support.
The Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with the OECD is conducting a study into the most suitable options for improving the water management sector's efficiency in Estonia. The project aimed at assessing Estonia's entrepreneurship in the water sector and drawing up a sustainable action plan for the sector was launched in June 2020 and will be concluded in early 2022.
Overview of other states' experience with ensuring the sustainability of water supply and sanitation services will also be given at the seminar. In addition to OECD experts, presentations will also be made by specialists from Romania, Austria, France, Finland, Scotland, Portugal, Croatia, Hungary and Bulgaria. The seminar is organized in cooperation with Lithuania, which is also at present assessing entrepreneurship in its water sector and drawing up an action plan for it.
Topics to be discussed at the seminar include the role of strategic planning in the provision of water supply and sanitation services, potential for cooperation between local governments, and improving the system regulating the sanitation service. Additionally, challenges faced by smaller rural municipalities will be examined and an overview of the 25-year long process of boosting efficiency in water management will be given using the example of France.
The project geared at examining ways how to increase the efficiency of water management in Estonia is funded from the European Union's Structural Reform Support Program (SRSP) and carried out by the OECD in cooperation with the European Commission's Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support.