Revitalising the wastewater and waste management in Gevgelija

Local news, 22.05.2024

In Gevgelija, the Kozuf Mountain captivates the region with its backdrop, while the Vardar River flows tranquilly from the North, nourishing fields with high-quality vegetables and grapes.

WWTP Gevgelija
Wastewater Treatment Plant Gevgelija © SECO

With warm smiles and an industrious spirit, the people of Gevgelija thrive in agriculture, tourism, and essential services, painting their town as a welcoming place for all. Amid this charm, environmental challenges persist. At the turn of the millennium, Gevgelija faced significant issues in the form of inadequate wastewater and waste management systems and a looming environmental challenge. The city's solid waste landfill sat precariously at the intake of the Konjska River into the Vardar River, a couple of kilometres from the Greek border.

Recognising the urgency, the Ministry of Environment rallied both national and international support to address this hotspot. The municipality repurposed the landfill site to establish a wastewater treatment plant, financed the main collector of the wastewater, and joined regional efforts to manage solid waste.

Infrastructure improvements began with studies on wastewater, leading to a project to construct a main collector and a wastewater treatment plant. Bilateral cooperation with Greece provided initial funding, though the project needed further financial support.

In 2010, a trilateral agreement between North Macedonia, Switzerland and Greece secured sufficient funds for the plant's construction. Under the Steering Committee’s oversight led by Komunalec (Gevgelija), the project gained momentum.

Despite political difficulties, the project moved forward. In early 2015, the raging Konjska River flooded the construction site, causing damages to just started works. Concurrently, the wastewater treatment plant was completed shortly after by late 2016 and started operating in September 2018.

Throughout the project, Swiss funding and know-how strengthened Komunalec's operational capacity and enhanced the wastewater treatment system. Remaining funds facilitated the closure of the old waste landfill, addressing a longstanding environmental concern.

With Greek support, the landfill's closure was finalised in 2023, fortifying the riverbanks against future floods and leachate intrusion. Additionally, a 100kW-photovoltaic plant was installed at the treatment plant, augmenting its energy efficiency by covering at least 30% of the plant’s electricity needs.

Looking to the future, the plant's sustainability hinges on proper maintenance and upgrades, including tertiary wastewater treatment. The plant also benefits the private sector by opening the door to many possibilities. Its success hinges on the joint commitment of the municipality, citizens, civil society, and the private sector towards a cleaner and greener Gevgelija.

Gevgelija has transformed its existing environmental challenges into opportunities, enabling the Municipality to progress towards a more sustainable future.