The European Union’s Cohesion Fund funded 517 million kroons of Estonian environmental conservation projects in 2007, with an additional 38.2 million kroons of support coming from the European Regional Development Fund. 700 million kroons was also provided for such projects by the Environmental Investment Centre.
“This year has been a successful one for the Estonian living environment,” said Minister of the Environment Jaanus Tamkivi. “A number of significant water and sewerage structures have been completed, and waste treatment reviewed.”
The need for large-scale investment in the Estonian living environment has arisen from the obligations the country took on in joining the European Union to fulfil the conditions of the drinking water directive, the urban waste water directive and the landfill directive. “But what we have to strive for first and foremost is ensuring that drinking water that meets all of the requirements is available to as large a number of the population as possible, and that waste water is treated and doesn’t pollute the environment,” the minister added. “That’s why we have launched so many projects designed to improve the quality of drinking water and construct collection systems and treatment centres for waste water.”
Tens of kilometres of water and sewerage pipeline have been constructed and renovated this year as part of water projects, as well as treatment plants, pumping stations and more. An example is the Rapla and Kehtna municipality water and sewerage structures launched at the end of May as part of the Cohesion Fund project at a total cost of 88.6 million kroons. 50 million kroons of this amount was funded through the Cohesion Fund, with the remaining 38.6 million kroons funded by the state and local governments. 10 kilometres of water pipeline and 24 kilometres of waste water pipeline with new pumping stations were completed.
The expansion and renovation project of the Tartu water and sewerage network came to a successful completion in June. The total cost of the project amounted to 361.7 million kroons, with the Cohesion Fund covering 70% of design and construction work. 20.6 kilometres of water pipeline were constructed and 36.8 kilometres renovated along with roughly the same amount of sewerage pipeline. Connection contracts for the public sewerage network have already been signed with 770 property owners. The completion of the Tartu tunnel sewer in January (with 68 million kroons of funding from the Cohesion Fund) has significantly improved the supply of high-quality drinking water to the residents of the city, and reduced the pollution burden by at least 95%, ensuring that waste water is not discharged into the Emajõgi River.
Management of refuse has also been successfully reviewed and streamlined this year. For example, the Pääsküla waste centre – one of the biggest polluters in greater Tallinn – was closed at a cost of 173 million kroons, of which the Cohesion Fund covered 75%. A new waste centre was opened in the village of Kiltsi in Ridala municipality in Lääne in March at a cost of 7.2 million kroons – 90% of which was funded by the Environmental Investment Centre and 10% by local governments. The Põltsamaa regional waste centre launched operations in June, at a total cost of 7.4 million kroons. 6.6 million kroons of this amount was financed through the Environmental Investment Centre, with the remaining funding coming from local governments. County
One of the most successful initiatives of the European Regional Development Fund in Estonia was also related to refuse management – the fund provided 400,000 kroons in financing for the Abruka waste treatment project.
It has been with the assistance of the Environmental Investment Centre that restoration has been completed on the Piusa caves, home to the biggest wintering colonies of bats in northern Europe. The caves had to be closed in March 2006 prior to the start of the tourist season due to the threat of collapse, but they were reopened at the end of November this year. The Environmental Investment Centre allocated more than 3.7 million kroons in funding to the State Nature Conservation Centre for the restoration work.
The environmental projects that have been completed in 2007 are reducing air pollution (gas from refuse and landfill) and pollution of the environment from effluent. Improved environmental conditions (such as high-quality drinking water) reduce health risks.
The European Union is set to continue helping the Estonian environment. 24.7 billion kroons of support has been provided for the development of the living environment between 2007 and 2013, with 11.5 billion directly going to environmental and nature conservation.