Clean water in Gradačac no longer a pipe dream

Clean water in Gradačac no longer a pipe dream


Ambassador Johann Sattler, Head of the EU Delegation and the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Mayor of Gradačac Edis Dervišagić symbolically turned on the taps at the Kerep pumping station on 7 March 2024. 

This marks the completion of a comprehensive project aimed at enhancing and modernising the municipal infrastructure. This project incorporated multiple initiatives such as the reconstruction of wastewater treatment facilities supported by the Czech government, the expansion of the sewage network supported by the Swedish government, and the expansion and reconstruction of the water supply system supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union.

This joint initiative between the City of Gradačac and its partners has enabled Gradačac to become one of the first cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to replace all asbestos-cement pipes in the water supply system.

The total investment amounts to around €17 million, with over €2.6 million in grants secured through the EU Western Balkans Investment Framework via WBIF Bilateral Donors and €6 million loan from the EBRD.

"The modernisation of Gradačac’s water supply network marks a new beginning for the 20,000 residents of the city, with cleaner and safer water, and less wastage. I am glad that EU and EBRD support has been complemented by financing from Czechia, Sweden and Norway – this is a true Team Europe approach, helping Bosnia and Herzegovina align with EU standards. This is a step forward in our collective efforts to improve the water systems across the country and help to meet its commitments under the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans," Ambassador Johann Sattler said.

The event was also attended by the Norwegian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Olav Reinertsen, the Swedish Ambassador Helena Lagerlöf, the Czech Republic Embassy Consul and Head of Cooperation Štěpán Šantruček, the Head of the EBRD in BiH Manuela Naessl and other guests.

“What the City of Gradačac has achieved with this project is an example for other municipalities and cities across the country. This is about making the lives of citizens easier and also about coming closer to the EU. This is a concrete example that bilateral donors and international financial institutions can work together with the local community and the city and create good projects such as this one,” stated Norwegian Ambassador Olav Reinertsen.

Water Supply Gradačac (c) EBRD 2023

Through this project, over 40 km of new sewage network was built, and over 40 km of old asbestos-cement network was replaced, which completely rid Gradačac of those water pipes.We can say that we are pioneers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that the City of Gradačac has solved the issue of water supply through the implementation of this project," emphasised Gradačac Mayor Edis Dervišagić.

The project to renew the municipal infrastructure in Gradačac is in line with the priorities of the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans under Flagship 7 - Solid Waste and Wastewater Management. The project is also fully compliant with the EU Water Framework Directive and Drinking Water Directive, as well as the Green Agenda.

“Investing in efficient, safe and greener municipal infrastructure remains one of our key strategic priorities and the EBRD and its donors stand ready to provide finance and support for it,” said Manuela Naessl, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The project in Gradačac is just one part of the comprehensive support from the European Union to improve water management and wastewater treatment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) funds, the EU has provided approximately €83 million in grants to help Bosnia and Herzegovina align with EU standards in the field of water management, urban wastewater treatment, and drinking water.

Additionally, significant investments have been made in water and waste management infrastructure in collaboration with international financial institutions, with EU grant funds from the EU Western Balkans Investment Framework complementing favourable loans from international financial institutions. This supports efforts to expand and rebuild water supply networks in Visoko, Sarajevo, and Banja Luka.

Photo gallery here

WBIF Bilateral Donors booklet (March 2024) here