In Serbia, only 26 wastewater treatment plants are in operation

Only 55% of the population is connected to sewage systems in Serbia. Wastewater treatment plants, where they exist, use mostly outdated technologies and were built more than 30 years ago.

The “Clean Serbia” project aims to preserve drinking water, which will be the main resource in the years ahead, and to prevent the pollution of rivers that have now reached a critical level, and thus the coastal zone and the wildlife in it. According to the construction of sewage infrastructure, Serbia belongs to the group of medium-developed countries, while in terms of wastewater treatment, it is at the very back, reports National Geographic.

The percentage of the population covered by wastewater treatment, according to statistical data from 2020, was 14.1 percent in 2018, of which 13.1 percent was related to secondary treatment. In Serbia, a total of 47 cities and municipalities have wastewater treatment plants, of which 26 are in function (with 2 in reconstruction and 5 in trial operation). Only 5 local self-government units have a facility with tertiary treatment.

Unlike many European countries, projects related to ecology were not priorities in earlier years. The construction of a wastewater treatment plant is not cheap and simple because it first of all implies construction of an adequate sewage network and supply of waste water to the plant.

Within the framework of the German-Serbian bilateral cooperation, through the KfW program “Water supply, waste water treatment and sewerage program in medium-sized cities in Serbia”, it is ensured significant support for the modernization and construction of water supply and sewage infrastructure.

The goal of the program is to contribute to the efficient use of water resources, ensuring the appropriate quality and quantity of drinking water for the population and the economy, as well as through waste water management contribute to environmental protection. Since the beginning of the implementation of the program, technical and institutional support has been provided for more than 20 cities in Serbia with a total of 1.6 million inhabitants through five separate programs, of which over 245 individual investment projects have been fully completed or are in progress. Out of the total number of companies engaged in project implementation, 85% are domestic companies. During its duration, the program also contributes to business improvement, monitors results and evaluates sustainability operations of utility companies participating in the project.

The “Clean Serbia” project implies the construction of sewage networks, but the plant itself is practically the answer to the poor state of Serbian waters.

The number of inhabitants covered by this program is about two and a half million in 69 local self-government units. As part of the “Clean Serbia” project, the construction of over 5,206,679.31 m of sewage network is planned, and the number of plants is almost half of the number needed for the whole of Serbia (165 WWTPs).

Four sites in the Municipality of Varvarin

The works in the Municipality of Varvarin are executed at multiple locations. In Obrež, works are executed at three locations while the location of Rosulje in Svrljig has been completed.

Four sites are currently active in the Municipality of Varvarin for which the “Clean Serbia” Project plans the total 44,738.63 meters of length of sewage network.

Active sites in the Municipality of Varvarin are in Obrež. Currently, the works are being executed in the following streets:
1. Ive Lole Ribara St.,
2. Branka Krsmanovića St.,
3. Veljka Vlahovića St.

After the completion of works at the location of Rosulje in Svrljig, the works are currently being executed in the 13. oktobar St. where the processing of manholes and preparation for watertightness testing are in progress.

Apart from the sewage network, the “Clean Serbia” Project plans for the construction of four wastewater treatment plants in the aforementioned municipality. The value of these designs is close to 22 million Euros.

Kruševac in the focus of ecological projects

The city of Kruševac is focusing on environmental projects in the coming period. About 24 million euros were invested in the wastewater treatment plant in cooperation with the German development bank KFW.

“About 24 million euros have been invested in the wastewater treatment plant in Kruševac, which makes Kruševac a leader in communal infrastructure,” said the Minister of Construction and Transport, Tomislav Momirović, during his visit to the city.

The “green city” concept was supported by the Ministry of Transport and Construction, and with the cooperation with KFW, the “Green Agenda” of the Western Balkans is sustainable in this city. The plant in Kruševac is the most successful example of a waste water treatment plant in Serbia, which was built in accordance with the standards of the European Union.

“We are absolutely committed to the sustainable use of natural resources, the protection of biodiversity and the environment in accordance with the goals of the “Green Agenda” for the Western Balkans. We still have a lot of projects ahead of us, and we  will place a special focus on the construction of wastewater treatment plants and very soon start the construction of six plants, as well as the construction of central landfills, one of which will be in Kruševac. In a year and a half, we will have a perfect ecological picture in Kruševac. In the coming period, together with our partners from Germany, we will invest close to 250 million euros for priority investments in ecology in a healthier environment for all citizens of Serbia. “Investments in the field of water supply, regulation of waste water and municipal waste are underway in a large number of local self-governments in Serbia,” said Momirović after visiting the waste water treatment plant in this city.

Two more streets in preparation for asphalting in Vranje

After the asphalting of Sava Kovačević Street, two more streets are currently being prepared for asphalting in Vranje.

The works that began in December last year as part of the “Clean Serbia” project in Vranje, envisage the construction of 141 kilometers of sewage network, worth 70 million euros.

The current works include the construction of the collector where the processing of the shafts remains and their examination, while the works at the locations in Makedonska and Drvarska streets are in the final phase. Two more streets are already in the final stage of paving. “These are the streets of Kralja Milan and Karadjordjeva. All that remains is to install the buffer layer, test it using the static method, and then start asphalting. We hope so the predicted rain will not significantly affect the expected dynamics of the asphalting works scheduled for next week”, say the regional center of “Clean Serbia”.

In Vranje, permits for 22.5 kilometers of sewage network have already been secured.

Illegal construction and unresolved property legal relations often hold up the works

A common problem that is encountered in numerous cities and municipalities where the “Clean Serbia” project is being implemented is the illegally built sewage system that was built by the locals themselves without the necessary permits and consent. Inexpertly performed works that were once carried out by the locals prevented the functioning of the sewage network, and very often the drains made in this way end up in the banks, rivers or next to the roads and streets, which endangers the health of the local population and local biodiversity, so environmental accidents are frequent.

Dubravska street in Ilićevo in Kragujevac is just one example of an illegally built sewage network by the locals themselves. This problem is currently being solved, and the city of Subotica during the previous years was actively involved in solving the problem of illegal connections and construction, giving citizens the opportunity to report the work done by a certain deadline.

Illegal connections with inappropriate pipe profiles, unprofessionally made joints, lack of manholes, are often the cause of pipe bursting, which also leads to the spilling of feces on the streets themselves, and often lead to cracking of the asphalt layer if it exists, which creates additional problems.

Illegal sewage networks are the result of an earlier period of intensive construction without permits and consent, and we should not forget the fact that such works are contrary to current laws and are strictly punishable. In order for someone to be legally connected to the water and sewer network, it is necessary first of all to have a built legal water and sewer network to which the facility can be connected, as well as for the facility to be connected to be legal.

Such a situation, where the citizens clearly need sewage infrastructure, and it has not been there for years, inevitably indicates the necessity of solving the problem of wastewater drainage and then its purification, which is the key goal of the “Clean Serbia” project. Citizens not only solve key problems in this way, but the works themselves are carried out in accordance with laws and valid regulations.

Another big problem is unresolved property legal relations between the owners themselves or in the relationship between local self-government and private owners. Numerous streets that local self-governments propose at the request of citizens for the construction of a sewage network are privately owned. Such situations often lead to work stoppages or delay the very beginning of works. Solving property legal relations is the task of local self-governments.


Preparatory asphalt works in Kragujevac

In the regional center of Kragujevac, as part of the “Clean Serbia” project, preparatory asphalting works are starting today at the location of Milivoja Bankovića Sićka Street.

At numerous locations in Krgujevac, the construction of a sewage network is being implemented as part of the “Clean Serbia” project. Works at certain locations are nearing completion, which is also the case with Milivoja Bankovića Sićka Street, where works were carried out on the construction of a 1,290.05 meter long sewage network. In this street, the preparatory works that precede the asphalting begin today, which brings the street itself into the final phase of the works.

In Kragujevac, as part of the “Clean Serbia” project, two streets in the Maršić neighborhood have already been completed, while work has begun on the third.

Works are also underway at the Denino brdo location, where property legal relations are also being resolved along with the works.

The “Clean Serbia” project in Kragujevac consists of three important environmental projects – the construction of a 360-kilometer sewage network, three wastewater treatment plants and a new landfill.

“Clean Serbia” through new kilometers of sewage network

While numerous Municipalities and Cities in Serbia prepare the necessary documentation in order to enter the “Clean Serbia” Project, during the month of August the works on the execution of sewage network were executed in all municipalities with which the contracts have already been singed. In some municipalities works are carried out at multiple locations, while in others works are already at the stage of final asphalt layering.

No. Site Length for execution in meters Total length in meters Note


1. Lajkovac Bogovađa-1745m 30,193.93 m                 7884.04 m of executed sewage collectors
2. Knić 2806.83 34,390.80  
3. Kragujevac 7752.30 41,745.42  
4. Krupanj 3664 m 7344.83 m 1611,6 m of executed sewage collectors
5. Kladovo 1,437.00 5,279.00 2 active sites
6. Lazarevac 19050 m 24753.75 m 9884 m of executed sewage collectors
7. Mionica 11347 m 19079 m 1354m of executed sewage collectors
8. Obrenovac 17895.33 m 98,389.73 m 11810,1 m of executed sewage network.
9. Svrljig 918.8 6040  
10. Varvarin 8262.45 44738.63  
11. Vranje 5202.55 141675  
12. Kučevo 3,494.00 17,428.50


2 active sites
13. Novi Sad 25,657.19 42,072.51 2 active sites


14. Novi Bečej 38,531.92 46,535.25 2 active sites


15. Banja Vrujci 3607.29 m 8498.0 m Banja Vrujci-3595.86 m of executed sewage network


16. Veliki Crljeni 6145 52,597.59 3156m of executed collectors

Kraljevo ever closer to Regional Waste Management Center

Kraljevo, Vranjačka banja and Trstenik have never been closer to addressing the problem of waste disposal. After a meeting held in Kraljevo where the next steps towards the construction of the Regional Waste Management Center (RWMC) were clearly defined, around 180 000 residents of the aforementioned places can expect designing to be finished in one year’s time.

Representatives of the „Clean Serbia“ Project held a meeting in Kraljevo with the city representatives, Municipality and public utility companies where next steps were defined in order to start the construction of the RWMC as soon as possible.

With the „Clean Serbia“ Project, it is planned to cover Vrnjačka banja, Kraljevo and Trstenik with the RWMC, and the very center will be constructed in Kraljevo which does not have its own landfill, only a wasteyard. The design of construction of the RWMC does not only cover two units up to 500 000 tons in capacity, but also all necessary parts such as a recycling center and transfer station so that the amount of disposed waste could be reduced and possibilities of recycling utilized.

One of key things regarding the RWMC is the fact that the design currently being worked on by the AG Institute from Novi Sad includes the protection of ground waters from pollution, but also a roof cover which prevents the disposed waste from being washed off and ending up in surface waters and surrounding land.

Surface area covered by the RWMC is 25 hectares, and in the following days, representatives of the „Clean Serbia“ Project with the company Srbija vode will negotiate the best acceptable solution related to the leveling of the field which should in turn reduce the costs of construction. One of the tasks and obligations of the City of Kraljevo is to complete the Plan of Detailed Regulation and to implement the Regional Waste Management Center into it, the value of which is estimated to be around 20 million Euros.

The Regional Waste Management Center in Kraljevo is one of the four Centers covered by the „Clean Serbia“ Project and their respective locations are in Kragujevac, Niš and Pančevo.