Flemish wastewater treatment company Aquafin has signed an agreement for new financing worth €100 million (£85m) with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The funds will be used to continue the expansion of wastewater collection and treatment in Flanders – currently, more than 85% of all wastewater in the region is collected and treated.
The EIB loan will help boot that percentage further over the coming years, up to an expected 98% by 2027.
The financing will also be used to support the construction of three new wastewater treatment facilities and expand five existing installations, most of which are located at less than 50km from the North Sea coast.
In addition, a lot of existing infrastructure will be optimised or replaced, making the wastewater treatment more efficient, leading to a reduction in energy use and carbon emissions, in addition to energy efficiency measures carried out on all connected installations.
Since the project will result in a significant reduction of untreated rain and wastewater reaching the North Sea, the loan contributes to the Clean Oceans Initiative, which is meant to protect seas and oceans from pollution.
Aquafin CEO Jan Goossens said: “For Flanders, the EIB is a very important funding source in order to achieve the goals of the European Water Framework Directive.
“As a matter of fact, the projects financed with this loan do not only benefit the water quality in streams and rivers. By separating wastewater from rainwater, we also limit the risk of flooding due to heavy rains, which are increasing due to climate change. In this way, we stimulate managing rainwater locally for re-use or infiltration in the soil, which is also important with a view to drought problems. The secondary projects financed under this agreement are also distinctly ‘green’. These are aimed at improving the energy efficiency of the wastewater treatment infrastructure and generation of green electricity.”