Dragor River in Bitola
Without a wastewater treatment facility, all of Bitola’s wastewater has been discharged untreated into the Dragor River.

Wastewater treatment in Macedonia

More than 240,000 Macedonians benefit from the investments in wastewater treatment facilities

NIRAS and its consortium partners conducted studies to jumpstart improvements to wastewater infrastructure and living conditions in three municipalities of Macedonia. These measures were funded as part of the EU’s push to support improvements to the environmental sector.

At present, only 65% of Macedonians are connected to a public sewerage system. Moreover, the substantial age and lack of regular maintenance to existing systems has resulted in a network with numerous breakdowns and leakages. These have had a negative impact on living conditions and the environment as untreated wastewater has contaminated rivers and water sources.

Updates to infrastructure for collecting and treating sewage have been long overdue, but the lack of ready-made project documentation was causing considerable delays in securing investments. So NIRAS and its consortium partners completed master plans, feasibility studies, and design and tender dossiers to jumpstart efforts to improve wastewater infrastructure in Macedonia. Moreover, NIRAS supported the Ministry of Environment in Macedonia in completing applications for EU funding of the investments.

New wastewater treatment plants

The studies looked at three municipalities in particular (Bitola, Strumica and Tetovo) and for each one recommended construction of a new wastewater treatment facility. Since treatment plants had not previously been constructed in these municipalities, the entire domestic and industrial wastewater was being discharged into local rivers, causing health hazards and damage to the environment.

With the construction of the new plants – one of which is already underway – over 240,000 people will have their wastewater treated.

Improving existing sewerage networks

In addition to the treatment plants, the studies called for a total of 80 km of new sewerage networks to be constructed and approximately 15 km of existing sewer networks rehabilitated to ensure that wastewater from the vast majority of the population and its industries will be treated in accordance with local and international directives on wastewater treatment.

For example, the study found that the existing main sewers in Tetovo were insufficient at collecting wastewater. The main collector was too narrow in diameter and damaged in several places, and during rainstorms large portions of the network would be overloaded. In response, the studies planned 19 km of new main collectors and 32 km of new sewerage networks to be constructed in Tetovo in order to prevent spillage and increase sewerage capacity.

These measures ensure that environmental and living conditions for residents will improve whilst leaving room for a growing population.