The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Belgium-based wastewater treatment company Aquafin have signed the first tranche of a EUR50m ($63.8m) loan to fund sanitation, wastewater and water projects in the Flemish Region, Belgium.
The first installment is a part of EUR200m ($255.5m) loan over a period of 30 years that will finance numerous projects, such as building of wastewater treatment plants, additional sanitation of various discharge locations and installing rainwater piping to improve existing infrastructure.
Aquafin chairman Marc van den Abeelen, commenting on the loan, said, "Along with the financial support from insurance companies and pension funds, it will enable us to maintain the same pace of investment as in previous years."
European Investment Bank vice-president Pim Van Ballekom said, "The schemes that Aquafin will be able to carry out with this new loan will help to improve water quality in the Flemish Region's water courses, with a direct impact on the River Schelde and the North Sea."
The Flemish Region is the first Belgian region that has complied with the European Union's Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive,
which emphasises that wastewater from all towns with over 2,000 residents must be treated before discharging into a water course.
Currently, almost 80% of household wastewater in the Flemish Region is treated, which in turn releases three to five times less pollution in the region's rivers.
Aquafin managing director Luc Bossyns said the presence of aquatic animals that were hardly visible in the waterways is a sign of improved water quality.
"Now we want to keep up the momentum and meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive, which seeks to achieve good water quality in all streams and rivers," Bossyns added.
Since 1994, EIB has extended eight loans amounting to EUR1.4bn ($1.7bn) to Aquafin for the wastewater treatment facilities in the Flemish Region.
Image: Aquafin will use EIB approved loan to build wastewater facilities and improve existing infrastructure to provide treated water in the Flemish Region. Photo: de:Benutzer:Alex Anlicker