The Danube River Basin*
a basin shared by 17 states, all aspects of water management have an international
dimension, but the problems and potential conflicts to be addressed in the Danube
Basin are primarily of a local nature. The aim of this project is to assist the
resolution and prevention of local conflicts through dialogue and sharing experiences
across borders. The planned accession of several CEE states to the European Union
is an opportunity to review legislation in many areas, including environmental
protection and standards and the responsibilities of transboundary management.
The many political and economic transformations of the past decade have challenged
these nations to re-evaluate the way in which natural resources are valued and
managed, changed the roles of public authorities, civil society and the private
sector, and necessitated the forging of new relationships with neighbouring countries.
The main targets of this project will be the local authorities facing the challenges
of decision-making and struggling to meet EU standards in conditions of less than
full information and financial security, and the general public, for whom the
right to information and participation in environmental policy development is
now established, but who in reality often lack the knowledge and means needed
to exercise these rights. Communication, sharing and benefiting from experiences
of other states and regions, and encouraging the development of a transboundary
perspective amongst the citizenry are the principal goals of this project.
|* This project proposal was
prepared by Green Cross Hungary and Green Cross Romania, who will jointly manage
the project. Green Cross is very fortunate to have had the support of the Congress
of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in developing this
project. The Congress passed a resolution and agreed to a set of recommendations,
and to the support of this project, at a session in May 2001. The Province of
Gelderland in The Netherlands has been particularly supportive and will financially
support a portion of the GCI Danube River Basin Project and provide valuable comparative
expertise on the Rhine Basin.|
The Danube River Basin
Danube is a 2860 km long river that flows acrossnine countries, its watershed
of 817,000 km2 extendson the territory of 17 countries more than any otherriver
basin in the world. The discharge varies (atBudapest) between 615 m3/s (low water)
and 8600m3/s (flood, 1965) with an average of 2400 m3/s.The main tributaries of
the Danube are (watershed inthousand km2): Tisza 157, Sava 100, Siret 45, Dráva40,
Morava 38, Prut 29, Morva 27, Olt 22, Inn 26Vah 19, and Rába 18.
There are three
clearly distinguishable sections of theDanube-river: 1) Upper-Danube, from the
Black Forestto the Carpathian mountains, where a series ofhydropower stations
were built slowing the flow andcreating problems of sedimentation. 2) In theCarpathian
Basin the Danube flows through theWest-Hungarian plain, meandering and, after
theDanube Bend, arriving at the Great Hungarian Plain.Precious aquifers of drinking
water are found here.Regulation and flood protection has an essential roleand
the stable riverbed is fixed by regulation works,which need constant maintenance
and surveillance.3) The Lower Danube extends from the SouthernCarpathians to the
Black Sea. The Danube flows intothe Black Sea on Romanian Territory forming theDanube
Delta, the largest wetland in Europe, declareda Biosphere Reserve of global importance
due to therich diversity of flora and fauna.
basin contains many of the most important citiesin the CEE region, such as Vienna,
Budapest andBelgrade, picturesque towns like Salzburg, as well asheavy industry.
Mining activities are concentrated inthe mountainous regions. Several power plants(including
nuclear stations, for example at Paks, inHungary, and Cernavoda, in Romania) have
been builtalong the Danube and its tributaries, using the riveras cooling water.
Hungary and Romania
This project will concentrate on Hungary, the
forerunnerof the economic and political transformation ofthe region, and Romania
which still struggles with theghosts of the past, as the representative
sample ofthe countries of Eastern Europe. Together, Hungaryand Romania account
for over 30% of the total basinarea. Despite their economic differences, their
interdependencewas clearly demonstrated at the time ofthe Baia-Mare (Aurul) cyanide
spill in early 2000which wiped out most of the flora and fauna of theTisza-river,
a major tributary of the Danube. Hungaryand Romania are both located almost entirely
withinthe basin of the Danube river, which is therefore thesingle most important
natural feature of the twostates. The national Green Cross organizations,Green
Cross Hungary and Green Cross Romania, areboth deeply embedded in their respective
societiesand have the capacity, goodwill and knowledge toconduct a parallel assessment
of the problems inthese two countries, and identify common experienceswhich could
be helpful to all the nations of the Danube basin in the future. The result of
this extensiveresearch and on the ground investigation, to beperformed by top
academic and private sector expertswith the assistance of Green Cross volunteers,
will bedisseminated throughout the region. The support ofthe Council of Europe
will facilitate communicationwith local authorities across the basin, and the
projectwill be influenced by the Councils mandate to fosterdemocracy and
respect for human rights acrossEurope. Promoting effective and participative transboundarywater
management in the Danube basin isa natural means of achieving these goals.
Hungary is located in Central Europe in the middle ofthe Carpathian basin.
Its territory covers 94,000km2;its population is 10.2 million. The Danube River
represents60% of the total water resources of the country,and 95% of all water
resources of the country flow inrivers from originating in different countries.
This putsHungary in the least favorable situation in Europeregarding its ability
to control its own water resources.The total length of rivers in Hungary is 2400
km, thelength of the Hungarian part of the Danube is 460 km.Surface waters arrive
in the country through 24 riversand leave the country by three: the Danube, Tisza
and Drava. Therefore, the quality of the water in Hungaryis largely determined
by the status of the water flowinginto the country from abroad.According to the
EU system of water qualification(I being the best, V the worst) the quality of
thewater in Hungary is of II-III category. The quality ofthe water in the Tisza
is worse than the water qualityof the Danube, which is of category II. Pollution
isusually the result of activities outside Hungary, fromthis point of view the
catchment area of the Tisza isthe most endangered (see Baia-Mare, Aurul incident)but
there have also been industry related pollutioncases in the direct Danube catchment
area.Most of the water used as drinking water and for industrialpurposes comes
from the rivers, partly from directout take, however the main part (36%) comes
as bankfiltered water from the alluvions alongside the watercourses.The distribution
of the available water sources isvery unequal; there are no problems with quantity
nearthe Danube but there is a shortage of water in the easternpart of the Great
Hungarian Plain. National meanannual precipitation is 500-600 mm, but in the easternpart
of the Great Plain it is below 400 mm.
is divided into 19 counties but the water and environmental administration is
based on a sub-basin system: there are 12 water district directorates and environmental
directorates. The institutional structure of Hungarian environmental and water
management has been finalized and the central and regional levels of the system
now function in a satisfactory manner. The tasks of regulating environmental protection
and water management are divided between the Ministry for the Environment and
the Ministry of Transport and Water Management, with local level Environmental
Agencies and regional level Water Directorates. There are two important laws in
force, regulating these fields (Act 53 of 1995 on the Protection of the Environment
and Act 57 of 1995 on Water Management) and some of the most important related
EU legislation (such as the Drinking Water 98/83/EEC Directive and Urban Wastewater
91/272/EEC Directive) has already been transposed. The European Water Framework
Directive (2000/60/EC) now gives general guidance for solving water related problems,
and provides the benchmark for achieving required EU standards.
Local water supply
98% of the localities in Hungary have centralized
drinking water supply systems. According to Hungarian standards, the quality of
the water is satisfactory, however, 500 localities fail to meet the stricter standards
of the EU Drinking Water directive. The government is currently engaged in a program
for the amelioration of this situation.
and waste water treatment
Of the 3100 localities in Hungary only 983 have
public sewage networks; as Hungary is committed to meeting the requirements of
the EU regulation by 2015, the government is currently implementing a program
targeting the building and modernizing of the wastewater treatment system.
Romania is located in the eastern side of Central Europe. There
are three important elements that define the geographical position of Romania
in Europe: The Danube River, The Black Sea and The Carpathian Mountains. Romania
covers an area of 237,391 km2. Out of the total boundary length of 3,190.3 km,
the Danube river boundary represents 1,865.7 km, the territorial boundary 1,037.7
km and the sea boundary 287.9 km. The country is drained by a hydrographical network
with permanent flow of about 76,000 km, with the total length belonging to the
Danube basin. Mean annual precipitation decreases in intensity from west to east,
from 600 mm to 500 mm in the Romanian Plain and under 400 mm in Dobrogea, to 1000
1400 mm in the mountain areas.
From the administrative point of view, Romania is divided into 41 counties, plus
the capital, the municipality of Bucharest. The average area of a county is about
4,600 km2, with an average population of 500,000 inhabitants.
According to the 1st of January 1999 census, Romania had a population of 22.5
million inhabitants, of whom 55% are living in urban areas. At the end of 1999,
the gross domestic product of the country was about $34 Billion, representing
a GDP per capita of $1,520. This is one of the lowest figures amongst the East
and Central European Countries applying for membership of the European Union.
Water collection from the Danube
management (water supply, sewerage and waste water treatment)
water resources are relatively poor and unequally distributed in time and space,
being formed of surface waters - inland rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and the
Danube River - and of ground waters. Black Sea water resources, although very
important, cannot be taken into account for the time being because of the technical
and economic difficulties in seawater desalination. The ground waters, generally
of better quality than the surface waters, are estimated at an available annual
amount of 9 billion m3, of which about 3 billion m3 can be used under existing
technical and economic conditions. Romania receives 85 billion m3/year from the
Danube River, but the possibilities for their actual use are limited because of
the river's navigable character. Thus, only 30 billion m3/year can contribute
to the water stock that is technically available for consumption. The Danube flows
alongside Romanian territory, with 37% of its length forming the Southern boundary
of the country. The river has already acquired important pollutants before it
evev reaches Romania, its water being included in pollution class II as defined
by the Romanian Standard STAS 4706/1988 as it enters the country. The quality
of the Danubes water is adversely affected by diffuse and point source pollution
throughout its catchment area. In particular, agricultural pollution and untreated
discharge from municipal and industrial sources in Romania have a negative effect,
both directly from riparian sources and indirectly via its tributaries.
the national level, the institutions responsible for the policy and strategy of
the water sector are:
The Ministry of Waters and Environmental Protection (MoWEP) - responsible for
the adoption of the EU water quality Acquis in Romania. The Ministry is responsible
for drawing up national water policy and the preparation of legislation and regulation
within this field.
The National Company Romanian Waters (Apele Romane SA) - responsible
for the enforcement of the water management policy, under the co-ordination of
The Ministry of Public Works, Transports and Housing - responsible for the quality
of construction of drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
Ministry of Health and Family - responsible for
drinking water quality.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests - responsible for the use and protection
of water in the agricultural field. At the local level, the Local or County Council
is the authority granting development consent and is the owner or supervisor of
water abstraction, supply and treatment infrastructure.
Law 137/1995 on Environmental Protection Law (framework law).
Law 107/1996 on Water Law.
Law 171/1997 for approval of the Plan of National Planning of the Romanian Territory
section II Water.
Governmental Decision 730/1997 for approval the NTPA 001 concerning the
charging with pollutants of the wastewater discharges into water resources.
Law 86/2000 for ratification of Aarhus Convention on public access to environmental
Law 14/1995 for the ratification of Danube Convention on co-operation regarding
protection and sustainable use of the River water. Each year, MoWEP revises a
Plan for Adoption of the EU Acquis in the field of environmental protection. The
National Plan for Approximation of the National Legislation with the EU Acquis
(draft in March 2000, finalised in May 2001) gives estimates for the transposition
of the most relevant EU Directives. In the table below it is also shown the most
expensive directives (regarding the implementation of their provisions).
|Drinking Water (98/83/EEC)||
|Urban Wastewater (91/272/EEC)||
|Surface Water for Drinking Water
(74/440/EEC) || |
pollutants in the ground water (80/68/CEE)|| |
Water for Drinking Water (74/440/EEC) || |
pollutants in the ground water (80/68/CEE) || |
pollutants in the surface water (76/464/CEE)|| |
to the environmental information (90/313/CEE) || |
regarding the environmental impact (85/337/CE)|| |
There is a vast differential between urban and rural settlements
when it comes to centralised drinking water systems; all the 263 municipalities
and towns have such systems, while only 17% of rural communities benefit from
this service. This also represents a real difference between Hungary and Romania.
The random distribution of water resources in the countrys territory, an
insufficient degree of regulation of river flows, and significant pollution of
some inner rivers are all causes of the lack of sufficient water supply sources
for parts of the country, especially during drought or very low temperature winters,
when water can be interrupted for days and flows drastically reduced.
Sewerage and waste water treatment
At the 206 waste water treatment
plants existing in Romania, only 77% of the total flow discharged through public
sewerage networks is treated. 47 urban localities (including Bucharest, Craiova,
Drobeta-Turnu-Severin, Braila, Galati and Tulcea) discharge waste water directly
into rivers without a preliminary treatment. 86% of urban residents, and 11.2%
of rural residents have access to public sewage facilities again displaying
a large difference between urban and rural. Correlating the two water public utilities
endowments, the population can be defined into three main categories: 1. population
that benefits from both endowments 51% of the total population; 2. population
that benefits only from water supply (without sewerage) 14% of the total
population; 3. population that benefits from neither water supply nor sewerage
35% of the total population. Investments are needed to permit the gradual
achievement of the standards required by the EU directives. These will be mostly
in charge of the public sector (particularly local authorities) and will be a
heavy burden for the public finances. In Romania there are now 556 operators of
public services, subordinated to the local public administration authorities or
with private capital, from which 74 are independent administrative structures
and 482 are commercial companies. The private capital involvement and the achievement
of strong and lasting partnerships between public and private sector are now at
the beginning. There have already been some examples of privatization in this
field, such as: in Bucharest and Ploiesti for the water supply and waste water
Problems and Issues
1. Lack of information, awareness and interest concerning water issues both at
the general public and decision-makers level.
3. Inadequate transboundary cooperation between neighbouring countries (especially
Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia).
Characteristics of the Conflicts
1. Lack of information and awareness in water issues among the public and decision-makers.
The general public is not aware that water is not an inexhaustible resource. They
also do not have enough information about the consequences of water pollution
and waste. Water treatment requires a great deal of financing and these result
in higher prices for the consumer, which in the absence of information can cause
consumer anger and mistrust between the people and the authorities. The price
of water is still very low (the lowest in the total household expenses, compared
to the electricity or gas prices), therefore people do not pay enough attention
to consumption rate, and a lot of water is wasted.
part of a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) loan in the
Municipal Utilities Development Programme (MUDP) I and II, several big cities
in Romania (Lasi, Timisoara, Craiova, Targu Mures, Brasov) benefit from investments
in water infrastructure rehabilitation and modernisation. Water meters have been
installed and the price of water increased, as a condition of the Loan Agreement
between EBRD and the Government of Romania. Without a proper public information
program, this situation generated anger and some conflicts occurred between the
local population and water services operators. The results were unpaid water bills
and even disconnection from the water distribution network.
right of the person to have access to any public interest information can only
be limited in special circumstances. In this respect, public authorities, according
to their respective competencies, are required to ensure that citizens are informed
about matters of public and personal interest. Both Hungary and Romania have ratified
the Aarhus Convention on public access to environmental information, due to enter
into force in November 2001. As well as Aarhus, the right to environmental information
is translated into a number of laws and orders that specify the responsibilities
and requirements for information provision. The water and environmental protection
laws of Hungary and Romania make provisions for public participation. The law
requires public consultation of water users, riverside residents and the general
public on all matters that affect their interests. Any decision should be taken
only after having consulted these persons. However, despite these provisions,
little consultation is actually carried out by the authorities.
particularly important necessity is the provision of useful, up to date and filtered
information for local government officials, who are not able to use either EU
or national funds and training facilities for these issues. The particular strength
of Green Cross in this field is that due to its structure it can provide information
that is accessible only to organizations with a strong international background,
while at the same time with the help of its local volunteers it can deliver this
information right to the people primarily concerned, thereby reaching a whole
string of small communities that otherwise might be resistant to outside influence.
Problems to be addressed by this project include:
The need for a guide presenting the main steps to reach available funding
sources for water infrastructure investments; in small and medium towns this information
is often unavailable.
The lack of awarness of many local decision makers are not advised of the present
situation of water legislation.
Difficulties and expenses faced in achieving the high water and environmental
standards now sought in the region.
Insufficient information on EU legislation and how to apply it.
Lack of communication between local and regional authorities and their counterparts
in other parts of the country and basin. This denies them the opportunity to gain
from others experiences and avoid duplicating mistakes. This lack of communication
becomes dangerous for the environment and public health at times of transboundary
emergency, and heightens the risk of conflicts. Cooperation and communication
could greatly reduce the expense of inefficient water management.
In Hungary the process of privatisation in the water sector, as in the other sectors
of the economy, has been going on for several years and is more advanced than
in Romania. To begin with, companies privatised part of the infrastructure of
the sanitation and waste water system of some Hungarian cities (Pécs Suez-Lyonnaise
des Eaux 48%, Szeged Vivendi 49%) with the involvement of foreign capital. More
recently, foreign investors have privatised the waste water and sewage treatment
and public water companies of Budapest Fovarosi Csatornazasi Muvek (25+1 % a consortium
formed by Lyonnaise des Eaux and RWE Aqua GmbH). Between 1991 and 1999, water
prices increased threefold in Hungary. State owned water providers were transformed
into share-holding companies belonging to the municipal governments. Since they
lack the means to invest themselves, some of the local governments have since
privatised their water-works. One of the conditions of privatisation was the promise
of reasonable prices and heavy investment in the infrastructure (e.g. in Budapest
every year 10 percent of the 4, 400 kilometers pipeline was supposed to be reconstructed).
Neither of these agreements have been kept; the companies are pushing for higher
prices to satisfy their shareholders (in 2000 they requested a 25% increase that
was refused by the local governments and they finally settled for a 13 % increase)
and appear to have forgotten about their pre-contract promises. For a population
already highly skeptical about the concept of private companies being responsible
for basic human requirements like water, this has served to deepen anti-privatisation
informing citizens of their rights and encouraging them to participate in the
decision-making process by enhancing dialogue with their local politicians, Green
Cross hopes to encourage individual in local communities to use their power as
voters and consumers to ensure that privatizing companies fulfil their pre-contract
promises. At the same time, providing useful and objective information to local
and regional authorities will enable them to carry out their role as regulators
more effectively. Public authorities are often no match for major international
private water companies in the negotiation of contracts and in regulating company
activities; civil society should be informed and active about this question and
insist on effective regulation by their elected officials and full accountability
of the private sector.
Romania, at the local level, the Local or County Council is the authority granting
development consent and is the owner or supervisor of water abstraction, supply
and treatment infrastructure. The rehabilitation and improvement of water infrastructure
is a process that will no longer be supported by the national budget, it therefore
requires funding and support through private capital. Privatisation of water services
only began in 1999. The process, developed in Bucharest (concession contract completed
in 2000) and Ploiesti, was very long and difficult, mainly because the authorities
were not well informed or prepared. They did not have enough information about
the national legislation in force and its compliance with EU legislation, private-public
partnerships, available funding sources for investments in water infrastructure
or different privatisation models and contracts.
the general public level
Green Cross will encourage the involvement of
the local population in environmental matters to avoid conflicts arising from
decisions that were taken without the consent or even awarness of the citizens.
In situations where conflicts have already emerged, for example due to price increases
or lack of service, Green Cross can help facilitate discussion and resolution
between parties and provide a channel of communication to relay public concerns
to the private sector.
the local and regional authorities level
The local authorities and their
subordinate institutions need to have a clear idea of the risks and benefits,
both political and economic, of investing in the water sector, either by inviting
companies to participate in the privatisation or by using their own means to improve
outlining the national and international framework of regulation, providing useful
examples from other cities in the region and by assessing the present state of
affairs and the attitude of the consumers towards privatisation, Green Cross intends
to help the local authorities perform this cost-benefit analysis, engage the public,
and make the best decision for their cirmcumstances.
Inadequate transboundary cooperation with neighbouring countries (Hungary, Bulgaria,
Tisza River ecological catastrophe involving the Aurul mining company in Baia
Mare, Romania, has been called the new Chernobyl and has presented
a multidimensional crisis for Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. According to European
Commissioner Chris Patten, The Tisza River disaster was not simply a Hungarian
or Romanian problem; it affected all of Europe. The Somes, Lapus, and Danube rivers
suffered a very serious environmental tragedy which destroyed an entire ecosystem
in a matter of days.
government reaction to the crisis in Romania and Hungary was slow, uncoordinated
and inefficient. The environmental authorities had no emergency plans for such
a disaster and failed to contact the EU for immediate technological assistance
in cleaning up the spill. Instead, great pains were taken to convince the public
that the media was exaggerating the scope and impact of the accident. To make
matters worse, in some cases the media did publish inaccurate information. In
this context, it became easier for Romanian parliamentarians to shirk responsibility
and blame Hungary for attempting to tarnish Romanias public image.
Romanian civil society reaction was also poor. Although few environmental NGOs
expressed their concerns, there was no unified strong protest at the national
lesson learned both by Hungary and Romania from this conflict is that water management
requires close co-operation and information exchange between the countries of
the Danube River basin. The decision makers have to take into account the possibilities
presented by EU adhesion and the water management directives of the European Union,
which highlight transboundary co-operation of whole watersheds. It would be useful
to look at the example of transbounary pollution management in the Rhine basin,
which was belatedly put into practice also after a major industrial accident.
1 Conduct an analysis of the level of information, understanding and awareness
of the public and decision-makers with regard to water issues and privatisation
in the water sector.
2 Inform the public, particularly with regard to transboundary aspects of
water, and inform the local authorities and decision makers with regard to the
implications of privatisation of water services. The precise targets for information
distribution will be determined by the results of the awareness analysis.
3 Disseminate information and experience gained at the regional level (Hungary,
Romania, and Bulgaria) to public authorities that will be involved in privatisation
of the water sector in the future, particularly in Romania.
4 Facilitate improved transboundary cooperation between Romania and Hungary
through initiation of a Public Reaction Committee for rapid response
of civil society groups in case of ecological disasters.
The project aims to facilitate a better dialogue between local authorities and
the general public, by providing stimulus and support for the information and
consultation campaign that the authorities should conduct, in view of the rehabilitation
and privatisation of water services. A better-informed and more aware public will
increase trust and confidence and reduce the potential for conflict in this period
An increased level of understanding and awareness in the general public regarding
the situation of the water sector.
Better informed authorities and decision makers
with regard to the implications of privatisation of water services.
Reduced potential for conflict in the water sector.
National and regional dialogue initiated between Hungary, Romania and neighbouring
countries in order to exchange experience, share lessons learned and discuss possibilities
to prevent and take common action against future possible eco-catastrophes (e.g.
Aurul Baia Mare).
Initiation of regional dialogue, with the full
involvement of civil society, on methods to prevent and respond to future eco-catastrophes.
The focal points of the project in Hungary and Romania are identical, but
due to the fact that the privatisation process is more advanced in Hungary the
approach will concentrate more on lessons learned than on the dissemination of
Action 1: Elaboration of a questionnaire - Impact at the local level
Green Cross Hungary will target representatives of the general public,
local decision-makers and organizations operating water services (foreign owned
and Hungarian joint stock companies, LTDs, public utility companies, etc.)
to receive first-hand information about the most important water management problems.
Questions will be designed to fit the varying needs of the regions of:
Budapest (1,930.000 inhabitants)
Szeged (169,000 inhabitants)
Pecs (163,000) representing the Centre, South East and South West of the country,
2 and 3
Action 1: Elaboration and distribution of an information handbook
Impact at the national level
The results of the questionnaire described
above will form the basis of an information handbook targeting local decision-makers
relevant laws, including an assessment of EU Regulation
available funding sources for investments in water
the current situation of water service privatisation
and its efficiency (using case studies)
the social implications of the actual situation and the possibilities for the
improvement of the operation of both public and privatised water services
information and comparative assessment of the Rhine basin experience.
Elaboration and distribution of an information leaflet - Impact at the national
results of the questionnaire will also form the basis of an information leaflet
directed at the general public in the regions examined, and particularly the localities
that are considering the privatisation of their water-works. The leaflet will
comprehensible overview of local situation and the privatisation question.
Information on public rights to involvement in the decision-making process, and
means to exercise them.
Information on the availability of legal and political remedies in case of harm
Frequently asked questions
Contacts for environmental and social welfare organizations
3: Roundtable Impact at the national level
A roundtable consultation
will be organised for the representatives of local authorities, water associations,
and private companies of the chosen pilot areas (Budapest, Szeged, Pécs).
This will result in the drafting of a resolution that will be presented to the
government and publicized.
For objectives 1, 2 and 3, Green Cross Romania has chosen
as pilot sites four counties Maramures, Salaj, Alba and Cluj. The selection
criteria for these counties included:
The small and medium sized towns within the 4 counties will be included in the
MUDP III program. They will benefit also from an EBRD loan (guaranteed by the
Romanian government) to improve and rehabilitate their water infrastructure. This
process should be preceded by an information campaign for the general public,
explaining the reasons why it is necessary and the consequences (e.g. higher price
for water). In order to avoid conflict situation and learn from the experiences
of other cities and counties, Green Cross would like to help and support the authorities
in implementing this process according to the law.
Their proximity to the Hungarian border. This enables easier information exchange
and transboundary co-operation.
Green Cross Romania has already developed contacts with experts, local authorities
and NGOs in these counties.
average population of the 4 counties is: 284,000 for Maramures, 497,000 for Cluj;
233,000 for Alba;107,000 for Salaj (see map attached) The target groups in each
of the counties are represented by:
local authorities: Prefecture, County Council, Mayor and Local Council of the
Capital County, Mayor and Local Council of 4 major communes. The 4 capitals of
the counties are as follows: Baia Mare for Maramures county, Zalau for Salaj county,
Alba Iulia for Alba county and Cluj Napoca for Cluj. The communes will be selected
following GCR consultation with the authorities of the counties, NGOs and experts.
general public: associations of private apartment owners, inhabitants of the 4
selected communes In order to reach its objectives GCR designed a set of actions
to impact local, national and regional level.
Action 1: Elaboration of a questionnaire for the public and decision-makers
in the 4 selected counties - Impact at the local level
In order to assess
the level of information, concerns and interest in water issues of both the general
public and local authorities, GCR will elaborate a questionnaire and distribute
2400 copies (600 questionnaires per county). The questionnaire will be designed
by a sociologist with the assistance of GCR water experts, in two versions, one
for the urban and another for rural areas. They will be distributed with the help
of volunteers from local NGOs and students to the target groups described above.
the results of the questionnaire will provide information on:
the view of the local population and authorities regarding water as a resource
and problems they are facing
their level of understanding about the consequences of rehabilitation of water
their level of understanding and awarness of the
legal aspects and their right to be informed and consulted
data will serve to elaborate information leaflets, develop further projects, elaborate
new policies and strategies for water or amend and improve existing ones.
2: Elaboration of a questionnaire for the local authorities and decision makers
of the 4 counties - Impact at the local level
The purpose of the questionnaire
is to identify the level of understanding and awareness of the local authorities
with regard to the implications of privatisation in the water sector and to identify
the gaps in information. They will be distributed to 500 individuals in the Prefecture
and County Councils of Maramures, Salaj, Alba, Cluj, the Town Hall and Local Council
of Baia Mare, Zalau, Alba Iulia and Cluj Napoca and the selected communes. Information
and opinions will also be sought from local water companies and other institutions
involved in the water sector. The data will be used to create an information handbook
for the authorities and key stakeholders in the water sector.
Action 1: Elaboration of an information leaflet - Impact at the local
Based on the information provided by the data collection, GCR will
elaborate an information leaflet to respond to the specific problems identified
at the public level. This activity has an important public awareness role, aiming
to stir the interest of the target groups. To increase dissemination, the leaflets
will also be distributed by the local authorities.
2: Elaboration and distribution of an information handbook - Impact at the local
and national levels
The target groups recipients of the handbook are the
local authorities of the 4 counties and the decision makers of the local water
companies and institutions involved in water sector privatisation.
The main topics of the information handbook will include:
the privatisation of water services.
case studies, success stories including
the Rhine comparison.
public-private partnerships and the existing
available sources of funding for investments
in water infrastructure.
launching of the handbook will be organised as a public event with the involvement
of the media. As a result of this activity, it is expected that local authorities
will be better informed with regard to the privatisation of the water sector.
An evaluation of the handbook will be carried out through open discussions during
the round tables. If successful, the handbook can be reproduced and distributed
for the use of local authorities in other counties in Romania.
3: Organise consultation / round tables - Impact at the local and national levels
After the information materials have been produced, four consultation/roundtables
will be held, one in each of the counties. The purpose of this activity is to
gather all the key stakeholders - local authorities, water operators, experts
and the private sector - in the county to analyse the potential for conflicts
in the privatisation process, to identify the challenges and determine the parameters
and objectives for the future of the water infrastructure sector in Romania. The
opportunity will also be used to disseminate the information materials and handbook.
In order to facilitate exchange of information and experience, representatives
of local authorities from counties more advanced in the process of privatising
water companies (e.g. Timisoara, Craiova, Ploiesti, Bucharest) will be invited
to share their experience with their colleagues from Maramures, Alba, Salaj and
Activities of Hungary and Romania
Action 1: Regional conference to facilitate the dissemination of the
lessons learned and the experience gained in privatisation of the water sector
amongst the neighbouring countries (Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria)
Impact at the regional level
A two-day conference will be convened
in Bucharest, inviting 100 participants from Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
Representatives of Green Cross International and other organisations will also
attend the meeting. Participants will be represented by parliamentarians, private
investors and representatives of stakeholder groups from the different countries
of the Lower Danube River Basin. They will share ideas and concerns, and assess
the real problems on the ground. Representatives of the three private foreign
companies which won the privatisation tenders for the water services in Bucharest,
Budapest and Sofia, will be invited to present the lessons learned, what went
well and/or wrong in the privatisation process, consequences for the consumers,
impact on citizens and on the water world within each of the three
countries. It is hoped that the participants will agree on a "Basin Declaration"
and a set of recommendations to be presented to the authorities in different regions.
Action 1: Bilateral Conference - Impact at the regional level
A bilateral conference and working group will be organised by GCR and GCH
in order to provide a framework for the establishment and co-ordination of a Public
Reaction Committee for rapid reaction, information and mediation in case
of ecological disasters. The conference will be held in Budapest and will include
all the important stakeholders in the water sector, as well as environmental NGOs,
experts, government officials, environmental protection agencies, mass media,
managers of the hot spot industrial and mining units, and local authorities.
All of these groups will be invited to either join or advise the Public Reaction
The Federation of Romanian Local Authorities
The Patronage of
the Public Services in Romania
The Romanian Water Association (ARA)
The Agency for Development of Water Infrastructure (ADIA),
Ministry for Water and Environmental Protection
The Romanian National
Water Authority Apele Romane
The Environmental Protection
Agencies from the 4 selected counties
Universities and schools from
the pilot counties
Local active environmental groups
The Hungarian Ministry for Transport and Water
The Hungarian Ministry for Environmental Protection
The Hungarian National
NGOs and Universities in the pilot regions
The International Commission for the Danube River Basin
of Gelderland in the Netherlands
The Council of Europe
A report on cooperation over water resources in
the Lower Danube Basin will be produced. This will be integrated in a document
prepared by Green Cross International together with the reports from the other
five basins that will be presented at the 3rd World Water Forum
The information and results of the project will be available on GCR and GCI websites,
and could serve as a model for possible co-operation between countries (Bulgaria,
Hungary and Romania), counties (Maramures, Salaj, Alba and Cluj) and different
stakeholders with common problems and interests.
A strategy for the Public Reaction Committee will be developed. Following the
termination of this project, in order to ensure continuity of transboundary cooperation.
Further development of PRC and attraction of additional member countries (e.g.
Yugoslavia) will be a main follow-up activity.
The Public Reaction Committee will be a civil society group aimed
at providing an avenue for raising local public awareness. It will provide a problem
solving approach, constructive dialogue and structural framework for: the local
and national actors involved in creating and implementing these plans; the EU
and other international entities wishing to contribute to emergency planning and
regional compliance with/accession to EU membership and; national, regional, and
international partnerships and experts. It will also develop strategies for civil
society engagement in and effective and coordinated response to emergency situations
and the promotion of measures to prevent them in the future.