Big shortfall in cash needed to bringing sewers up to scratch

In order to improve water quality in the region’s rivers, streams and cannels by 2027 major improvement work needs to be carried out on Flanders’ sewer network. However, the investment will have big cost implications for the municipalities and inter-municipal companies that manage our region’s sewers. According to a report by the Flemish Environment Agency the total cost of bring our sewers up to scratch will be at least 2.7 billion euro less than the sum estimated to be required.

The 2027 taget is set in law so the work will need to be done by then. The task of ensuring that the work is done and paying it falls to those in charge of managing the sewer network in Flanders: municipalities and inter-municipal companies. Based on their current income the Flemish Environment Agency estimates that those in charge of managing the sewers will be able to invest between 1.5 and 3.3 billion euro. However, a least 2.7 billion euro will be needed.   

However, the Association of Flemish City and Municipal Authorities (VVSG)  say that even this is an underestimation of the full cost. VVSG now intends to get around the table with potential partners to see where the extra cash required can come from.

VVSG’s spokeswoman Nathalie Debast told VRT News that "The investment must take place in order to improve water quality. This means that either subsidies need to be increased of municipalities will have to try and find the money elsewhere, or we will have to look at innovation and new technology”.

Meanwhile, the opposition Flemish socialists have called for any extra cost not to be passed on to the consumer.