The state of sewage system economics in rural areas in Poland
Infrastructure is the basis of economic activities both in urban and in rural areas. It is also one of main conditions for improving quality of life. Among its most important elements are: water delivery system, as well as sewage treatment network and sewage treatment plants. These devices should create one composite techno-economical system. Non-integrated water delivery contributes to bigger waste of water, and without connection to integrated sewage treatment systems, it can be a serious threat to the environment In Poland, and in rural areas particularly, this situation is highly unsatisfactory. In 2007, share of population connected to water network in rural areas was 73.3%, while for sewage network is was only 21.3%. In many communes, this share was even less than 10%. One can mention a few reasons of this state, mainly: lack of sufficient investment for 40 years after the 2nd World War, big water deficit in rural areas (brought about by droughts and thus, big reduction or decline of water level in shallow homestead wells, being a main water source), big dispersion of rural settlements in the country, limiting economies of scale achievement, and lack of resources available for local authorities. The latter, having not enough resources for infrastructure development, made a decisions to concentrate on water system firstly, while more costly waste management was treated as a second-tier need. In consequence, bigger investment in this field has just started since the half of nineties in the 20th century. Despite this late investment, in December 2007 one could observe that the total length of sewage network was still 4 times shorter than water network. Only 15.5% of rural administrative units were canalized. A quantity of household wastewater purified was 5 times smaller than a quantity of water used. There was also a small number of household sewage treatment plants (figure 4), which can be a good response for dispersed rural settlements. Thus, cesspools (many of them leaking), remain the main way of wastewater collection, being a serious threat for environment. However, there is a hope that this situation will change during next 7 10 years, mainly by obliging Poland to follow the EU Directive 91/271/EEC. This law expects any European Union member state to create, till the end of 2015,more than 2 thousand inhabitants. In Polish National Sewage Treatment Program, almost 1600 administrative units of these kind, were indentified. 1400 of them are totally or partially inhabited by rural community. Releasing this program is, however, determined strongly by local self-government activity and its ability to gain sufficient financial resources for this purpose.
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