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Funding sanitation infrastructure

A major effort in the name of inter-basin solidarity is being made to assist the French overseas departments (FOD) with their wastewater-treatment projects. The goal is to fully implement the Urban wastewater directive in the highly diverse FODs.

The European urban-wastewater directive requires upgrading of sewer networks and treatment plants to comply with standards and is applicable in the FODs. To assist in the major effort required, the European regional development fund (ERDF) will assist the FODs in catching up, in addition to the national funding.

The national funding is provided by the Overseas ministry, Onema, the overseas territories and the Water offices. The latter, created in the territories in 2001, are progressively setting up a fee system
.

Complete implementation of the Urban-wastewater directive

Upgrading to standards should have been carried out by 2000 for towns of over 15 000 inhabitant-equivalents or by 2005 for those with between 2 000 and 15 000 inhabitant-equivalents. To date in the FODs, six towns with over 15 000 inhabitant-equivalents and approximately 15 with over 2 000 inhabitant-equivalents do not comply with standards.

The situation between departments is highly variable, for example population densities vary from 2 inhabitants / square kilometre in Guiana to 497 inhabitants / km² in Mayotte. In Reunion, 19 towns out of 24 have a full-fledged public service for drinking water and sanitation.
In Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guiana, 50% of wastewater is not collected by a public sewer system. It is often treated in non-collective sanitation systems offering divergent levels of performance. The work now being funded by Onema in the urban areas is intended to collect and send the wastewater to modern, high-performance treatment plants. In Guiana, the situation is very different between coastal areas where there are sanitation problems and the interior where the priority is access to drinking water.

Diversity of projects

For the period 2008-2011, Onema will invest a total of 50.7 million euros for approximately 50 projects, in the name of solidarity with the overseas territories, of which 83% for the FODs and 17% for other territories. Individual amounts range from 37 000 euros for an initial design study to almost 8 million euros for a wastewater-treatment plant in Cayenne. Projects are divided into design studies (23%), construction (15%), extensions (15%), upgrading of wastewater-treatment plants (5%) and the creation of sewer systems (42%).

The priorities set by Onema in 2008 concern sanitation projects listed in the European operational programmes that risked incurring penalties if not addressed promptly.

Onema also funds research and studies by Cemagref on adapting extensive water-treatment processes to tropical conditions.

Contact: bernard.le-guennec@onema.fr

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